A success for the first complete test of the Russian rocket Angara A5

The Angara A5 rocket lifting off (Photo courtesy Russian Ministry of Defence. All rights reserved)
The Angara A5 rocket lifting off (Photo courtesy Russian Ministry of Defence. All rights reserved)

Yesterday the Russian rocket Angara A5 successfully completed a test flight after being launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 800 km north of Moscow. The Briz-M upper stage separated regularly after about 12 minutes to perform the longest part of the mission, which was to bring a dummy mass to geostationary orbit. The series of maneuvers was successfully completed about nine hours after the launch.

In July 2014, a suborbital test of a rocket Angara in its 1.2PP configuration was successful, opening the way for yesterday test, which was more complete and with the biggest and most powerful configuration. The Angara rockets are a new family designed following a modular system that allows to use a quantity of boosters and stages suitable to the needs of the specific launch.

The Angara A5 rocket tested yesterday is the version with four first stages of the Universal Rocket Modules 1 (URM-1) type attached to the main URM-1 to obtain enough thrust to launch a payload to a geostationary orbit. Each URM-1 is equipped with a RD-191 engine that uses RP-1, a very refined kerosene, as fuel with liquid oxygen as the oxidizer.

The Angara A5 configuration includes a second stage called URM-2 which uses the same propellant as the URM-1 and a third Briz-M stage already used for the Proton rockets. A new third cryogenic stage called KVTK is expected to be adopted that will increase the amount of payload that can be brought to geostationary orbit but its development should still take a number of years.

Among the variants of the Angara A5 rocket one was proposed named Angara A5P that would be used to launch a manned spacecraft. It wouldn’t have the second stage and the insertion into orbit would be completed using the spacecraft’s thrusters.

As in suborbital test of July, yesterday’s launch was broadcast neither on television nor via the Internet and the information were subsequently provided by the Russian media. President Vladimir Putin followed the launch in video conference, demonstrating the importance of the Angara rockets to improve the situation of Russia in the rich market for satellite launches.

The test data will have to be thoroughly examined but the first comments released to the Russian media were very positive. It’s therefore possible that already in 2015 there will be the first launch of an Angara rocket with a real payload beginning the gradual replacement of the other rockets and the use of the Russian Plesetsk Cosmodrome in place of the Baikonur one in Kazakhstan.

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