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AUGUST 2020

Russia Orders 5 Angara-A5 Heavy Space Launch Vehicles

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Russia Orders 5 Angara-A5 Heavy Space Launch Vehicles

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On June 3rd, the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered four Angara-A5 heavy space launch vehicles, Vedemosti reported.

They were ordered from the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.

In January 2020, according to RIA Novosti, it was expected that Roscosmos and the Ministry of Defense would conclude the first contract for the serial supply of Angara-A5 missiles after a test launch was scheduled for 2020.

The contract is estimated at over 18 billion rubles ($260 million), and must be completed before 2024, according to an unnamed source in the Defense Ministry.

According to the manager of the space industry, the conclusion of this long-term contract will allow them.

Khrunichev did not stop production pending the contracting of the necessary cooperation chain, which could have happened if the conclusion of the contract had been postponed until the launch of the second Angara-A5 from Plesetsk.

The first and, so far, only launch of the “heavy” modification of the Angara from Plesetsk took place in 2014; currently, the Vostochny Cosmodrome is constructing a second launch pad for launching missiles of this type.

The Angara-A5 is one of the most long-term projects of the Russian space industry, the decision to create this heavy space launch vehicle to replace Proton, typically from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, was made in the early 1990s. However, real funding for the project began in 2006.

According to the unnamed source, the decision to prematurely sign the Angara-A5 contract was made as part of the decision to conclude a number of major contracts of the Ministry of Defense in order to support the defense industry in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

These decisions include the expected contract for the supply of 76 Su-34 front-line bombers worth over 100 billion rubles ($1.4 billion), which was reported by Izvestia.

In addition, a formal signing of the contract and the laying of two universal landing ships to replace the Mistral-class landing ships, which were not delivered due to the embargo by France in 2014, is expected soon, the Vedomosti source claimed.

It should be recalled that the first and so far the only launch of the Angara-A5 heavy launch vehicle (sample 1L) took place from the Plesetsk cosmodrome on December 23rd, 2014.

Another test launch of the Angara-A5 is scheduled from Plesetsk in the third quarter of 2020, its delivery was scheduled for March-April 2020, but so far there is no information regarding the matter – on April 17th, Dmitry Rogozin only announced that this missile was “going through the final check” before being sent to Plesetsk. In addition, by the end of 2020, another Angara-A5 heavy space launch should be delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

These missiles are launched under the Roskosmos contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense for flight design tests of the launch vehicle, according to which it was planned to make 5 Angara-A5 launches before 2021, although it is obvious that the program is being delayed significantly.

In October 2017, the acting general director of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center said that through the Ministry of Defense of Russia there have been orders for the manufacture of 10 Angara-A5 carriers, but it is unclear whether the contracts had been concluded.

In December 2015, a state contract was signed between Roscosmos and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center for the manufacture of three Angara-A5 launch vehicles, with the manufacture of the first missile by May 2021, the second by 2024, and the third by 2025. The launch of the first of these three missiles from Vostochny Cosmodrome should be carried out between August and December 2021.

In January 2020, Roscosmos and the Russian Ministry of Defense agreed on the appearance and characteristics of the Angara-A5M modified launch vehicle, which is supposed to replace Angara-A5 after 2024.

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  • Dick Von Dast’Ard

    Post Covid-19 world is most definitely a tech-heavy space domain.