Fourteen years after the start of development, Russia's Angara rocket needs a cash injection of billions more roubles to deliver the planned 2011 first flights of its 1.2 and A5 versions.

Vladimir Nesterov, director general of Angara's prime contractor Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, told Flight International: "When Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin toured [our company] on 18 April, [we] came forward with a request for additional funding in 2009-11 to complete the Angara complex. The figure of Rb10 billion [$302 million] was mentioned."

Nesterov declines to give any figures on how much the Angara family has so far cost and how much more it is likely to cost before its first flights, but the company says there are no "big technical, organisational or production" issues to push back the flight dates.

Angara Rocket
 © Khrunichev Space Center

A mock-up of a lightweight version of Angara 1.1 or 1.2 rockets

The Angara Rocket Family

Khrunichev Space Center's Angara rocket family is based around an oxygen- and kerosene- fuelled common core booster concept. The Angara family consists of the 1.1, 1.2, A3 and A5. The 1.1 can put 2,000kg (4,400lb) into low Earth orbit and the 1.2 up to 3,700kg into LEO. The A3 can place 2,000kg into geosynchronous orbit and the A5, 4,500kg. Russia started development in 1995 with a first flight planned for 2000. Economic difficulties led to delays in the 1990s.

One core booster is used by the 1.1 and 1.2, with three and five used for A3 and A5. In 2000 engine maker Energomash began development of the common core booster's new 359,550lb (1,600kN)-thrust liquid oxygen-kerosene RD-191M engine. The RD-191M is based on the RD-171, used for the Ukrainian Yuzhnoye Zenit booster, and for the RD-170, that was the Buran shuttle-launching Energia booster's engine. Russia's Plesetsk cosmodrome is to house a launch pad for all of the rockets.

Hardware and testing-related costs, combined with the difficult worldwide financial climate, have been the real challenges. The schedule is for an Angara 1.2 to launch in "early 2011" and the A5 to fly at the end of that year.

That Angara complex includes the rocket family's new launch pad designed for use by all the variants and based at Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. Angara was initiated to replace launch capability if Russia were to lose access to its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Khrunichev's website says: "Underpinning the Angara project is the idea to secure Russia's assured access to space from the Russian launch base at Plesetsk and guarantee that Russia will be able to engage in space activities regardless of any trends in military-political and economic relations with other countries."

Kazakhstan was to have its own cosmonaut fly to the International Space Station this year from Baikonur, but that will not happen. The spare Soyuz TMA spacecraft seat on the ISS flight will go to either a Russian cosmonaut or a space tourist.

Russia is planning a new launch site at Vostochny in its eastern region, but Khrunichev will only say that Angara will fly from Plesetsk. Nesterov says: "The launch table for Angara has been installed on the [Plesetsk] pad. We are installing various systems and the pad is already in place. We are not planning any [launch pad construction] schedule changes at Plesetsk."

The company's request for funds to complete this project comes after the Russian federal government gave the company Rb8 billion as part of a wider support package for the space industry, not linked to Angara.

While Khrunichev waits for approval for that Rb10 billion request, work goes on.

The company says that testing for its rocket's Energomash-developed RD-191 engine is "nearing completion". Firing tests for the company's Polyot-built first-stage Universal Rocket Module (URM), which uses the RD-191, is planned for this quarter. Angara's second-stage URM, built by Khrunichev in Moscow, uses the Khimavtomatika Design Bureau-developed oxygen-kerosene engine RD-0124, a modification of the engine used on the Block "E" of Soyuz 2-1b.

Khrunichev's commercial launch arm is International Launch Services (ILS). But as to whether Angara will offered by ILS, Khrunichev says: "It is premature to discuss the first commercial launch. We expect the first commercial launch of Angara in 2013-14."

Angara Rocket
 © Khrunichev Space Center

A common core booster first-stage test article in a ground vibration test rig at Khrunichev


Source: Flight International