News / Science & Technology

Russia Scrubs Debut Launch of New Space Rocket

FILE - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (3rd-R) visits an assembly shop, with Angara booster rocket at right, at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia.
FILE - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (3rd-R) visits an assembly shop, with Angara booster rocket at right, at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia.
Reuters

Russia was forced to abandon Friday's debut launch of its first new space rocket since the Soviet era when the Angara booster cut out during a final countdown watched by President Vladimir Putin via video link from the Kremlin.

Angara is seen as a test of Russia's ability to turn around a once-pioneering space industry struggling to recover from a loss of highly trained specialists and years of budget curbs. It is also part of a move to consolidate the space program on Russian soil, breaking dependence on other ex-Soviet republics.

A senior military commander told Putin an automatic system had aborted the launch, without giving a reason for the delay, but that it had been put back for 24 hours until Saturday.

More than two decades in the making, the new generation rocket is a centerpiece of Putin's plan to reform the once-pioneering space industry and launch satellites from a new space port being built in Russia's far east.

The video link showed the Angara-1.2PP rocket begin to shake in its start position at the northern Plesetsk military launch pad, but a silence descended on the Kremlin conference room as the seconds stretched out and the launch failed to go ahead.

“The automatic system aborted the launch,” Alexander Golovko, commander of Russia's Air and Space Defense Forces told Putin, who ordered a report on the cause of the delay.

The development of the Angara - a new generation of rockets entirely designed and built within post-Soviet Russia's borders - is intended to break a reliance on foreign suppliers and the Baikonur launchpad Russia leases from Kazakhstan.

“This is the first launch vehicle that has been developed and built from scratch in Russia,” Igor Lissov, an expert with trade journal Novosti Kosmonovatiki. “Everything else we have is a modernisation of our Soviet legacy.”

Work on the Angara began two years after the break up of the Soviet Union when Moscow lost the maker of its workhorse Zenit and Dnepr rockets in newly-independent Ukraine and its main launch facility in Kazakhstan.

For some industry insiders, the crisis in Moscow's relations with Kyiv over its annexation of Crimea and a separatist rebellion in the eastern Ukraine proves Russia's need to produce and launch its rockets domestically.

“This [project] decision was made already way back in 1993, with an awareness that our former Soviet allies can ditch us at any moment,” Lissov said.

Setbacks

A potential commercial rival to Arianespace of France and Californian-based SpaceX, the modular launcher is designed to carry military and civilian payloads of up to 25 tons.

Its heavier cousin Angara 5, which space officials said is set for a test launch in late December, is to replace Russia's workhorse Proton rocket, which has suffered an embarrassing litany of costly botched launches.

But both rockets are made by the same builder, the Khrunichev space center, leading to fears that Angara - named after a Siberian river - will suffer similar troubles.

“There is absolutely no guarantee that Angara, which is built by the same industry, by the same company, by the same people will be immune to these problems,” said Anatoly Zak, editor of the industry website Russianspaceweb.

“Twenty years of development is over but we are at the very beginning of the flight testing.”

Unlike the Proton, powered by toxic hydrazine fuel, Angara uses an ecologically cleaner mix of liquid oxygen and kerosene.

Its medium-lift version, Angara-3, is due to complement the Soviet-era Soyuz - currently the only rocket ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station from Baikonur.

Years of strapped budgets when many experts quit the space industry have led to long project delays and ballooning costs from Angara. “It became extremely overpriced,” Zak said.

The Angara rockets will probably become commercially competitive only in another decade, he said, if launched from the new cosmodrome Russia plans at Vostochny, closer to the equator, where less energy is needed to carry payloads into geostationary orbit.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More