Angara named as possible spacecrew transport system launcher

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The Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Centre's in-development Angara rocket could launch the proposed Russian-European Space Agency Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) spacecraft, according to the head of Russia's Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov.

Of the Angara family of rockets, which uses a common core booster (CCB) design, only the Angara A5 heavy booster would be capable of launching the four- to six-crew CSTS conical capsule and its service module. A test firing of the first CCB is expected this year.

The delayed Angara's development was to have seen a first CCB launch this year. The CSTS test flight is expected in 2015. Other candidate launchers for CSTS have been an improved Samara Space Center Soyuz rocket, notionally called Soyuz 3, and in the longer term a man-rated EADS Astrium Ariane 5. However, Ukraine's Yuzhnoye Design Bureau's Zenit launcher has also been considered.

"Russia is determined to continue develop its relations with Europe in space", Perminov said at the ILA Berlin air show. He added that CSTS could be designed to fit different rockets and be launched from different launch sites. Angara will be able to launch from Russia's proposed Vostochny spaceport as well as its existing ports in Baikonur, Kazakhstan and Plesetsk, northern Russia.

Rocket and Space Corporation Energia will be Russia's prime contractor for CSTS. The company's general-director Sergei Krikalev told Flight International at ILA that CSTS could be partly reusable, but added that economic considerations would come first. "If something made for single use proves economically attractive, there is no reason to reject it. The actual question is about its degree of reusability," he said.