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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs