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Russia to Develop Heavy Lift Rocket

rocket preparing for launch
russian space booster Angara 1.2PP

Russia to Develop Heavy Lift Rocket

Vladimir Putin has given his approval for the development of a Russian-designed heavy lift rocket capable of carrying a record 150 tons of cargo into orbit.

“Today we heard the first concrete words about commencing work on this project. Previously, there was talk, but today President Putin gave the preliminary go-ahead for the new rocket,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, after touring the Vostochny cosmodrome.

The news comes after the successful test launch of the long-gestating Angara rocket earlier this summer. The rocket is capable of delivering up to 35 tons of cargo into the Low Earth Orbit in its most powerful modification. This is the first launch vehicle developed entirely after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Rogozin said that work on the new super-heavy rocket would begin as soon as the Angara rocket is in full use.

“After we are finished with this project, we will move onto something completely different – not a 7, 15 or 25-ton rocket, but one that is capable of delivering 120-150 tons,” said Rogozin, and stating that the construction stage of the project would be reached “around 2020.”

The outline of Russia’s space program for the next two decades, estimated the total cost of the new rocket program, including the infrastructure, at about 500 billion rubles (US$13.3 billion).

The new Russian project will be entering an increasingly crowded field.

Oleg Ostapenko, Vladimir Putin, and Dmitry Rogozin

NASA’s $12 billion Space Launch System, which has similar parameters to the Russian project, is scheduled for its first launch in December 2017, though it has recently encountered technical issues and budget overruns, which is expected to delay its launch.

China has already drawn up initial blueprints on its own super-heavy launch vehicle, Long March 9, though no specific target blast-off date has been definitively stated.

But rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is in development of a rocket that is not only a fraction of the budget of its rivals, an estimated $2.5 billion, but also promises a cost of each launch that is several times lower than the state-run space agencies.

The Falcon Heavy, only 53 tons, but already more powerful than other launch vehicles in operation, is set to count down to its first demo flight sometime next year.

The current generation of super-heavy rockets is neede for deep space and Mars missions, which will represent the first breakthrough in space travel since the moon landing, and the first orbital space stations.

Russia, the US, and China have all tentatively scheduled manned missions to Mars after 2030, with Musk planning to launch a mission before then.



Russia to Develop Heavy Lift Rocket

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