23 Aug 2019 12:11

First manned launch with Soyuz-2.1a rocket due in March 2020 - NPO Avtomatiki

YEKATERINBURG. Aug 23 (Interfax) - The Soyuz-2.1a rocket is ready for manned space launches, the first of which will take place in March 2020, according to Andrei Misyura, the General Director of NPO Avtomatiki, which designed the rocket's control system.

"People will go on mission in March of next year. This is the final test. The Soyuz-2 rocket, which has just carried a manned spaceship to space, is completely full-ready. The documentation has the necessary marks, and it is ready for mass production. This launch finalizes the tests," Misyura said at a press conference in Yekaterinburg on Friday.

A Soyuz-2.1a rocket coupled with the Soyuz MS-14 manned spaceship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Thursday. It reached its designated orbit and headed for the International Space Station (ISS). It was the first Soyuz-2 launch with a Souyz MS manned spaceship on board. Currently, Soyuz-FG rockets are used to send crews to the ISS, but Roscosmos has only one Soyuz-FG rocket left and it will transport the next expedition to the ISS in late September.

Soyuz-FG has an outdated analogue control system made by Ukraine's Kommunar company. Soyuz-2.1a has a digital control system made in Russia and designed by NPO Avtomatiki in Yekaterinburg. This rocket will be used to launch Russian manned spaceships starting in 2020.