RSC Energia Begins Work on New Soyuz-5 Booster

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Work is performed in compliance with the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation where RSC Energia is identified as the prime contractor of space rocket complex (SRC).

The following enterprises of State Corporation ROSCOSMOS: RSC Progress, FSUE TsENKI, etc. are the work co-executors.

Flight tests of new Russian launch vehicle (LV) Soyuz-5 are planned to be conducted for 2022 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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Corruption Cases Far Outnumber Launches at Vostochny

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

We here at Parabolic Arc haven’t been writing too much lately about the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. It’s not so much from a lack of interest, but rather a lack of actual news to report.

Since the much heralded maiden launch of a Soyuz-2 booster in April 2016 from the spaceport designed to free Russia from dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, there have been no additional flights from the site in more than a year. As in none, zero, zilch, cero, nada, big goose egg.

But, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening at Vostochny. Construction crews continue to build out the spaceport, which will feature an additional launch pad for Russia’s rocket of the future, the Angara. This module family of rockets has flown only twice, most recently in December 2014.

While Vostochny has been decided short on launches, the corruption cases the facility has become notorious for — with their millions in missing rubles, unpaid workers and diamond-encrusted Mercedes — continue to pile up like cord wood.

Mikhail Kalinin, the former CEO of the state enterprise Glavnoye Voyenno-Stroitelnoye Upravleniye No. 9, is the latest to be arrested for allegedly lining his pockets at the expense of Russia’s hard-working taxpayers.

“Kalinin demanded 4 million rubles ($66,250) from a Krasnoyarsk businessman for assistance in concluding a subcontract for construction work at the Vostochny Cosmodrome,” Russia Crime reports. “The second criminal case against Mikhail Kalinin is connected with the appropriation of 10 million rubles for the construction of the spaceport.”

If my math is right, the 10 million rubles is equivalent to $165, 625, making Kalinin’s alleged haul from the two capers a cool $213,875.  Not bad work, if you can steal it.

Kalinin has pleaded not guilty, although he is willing to cooperate in the investigation.

Russia Continues Slow Shift of Launches to Vostochny

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Tass reports that Roscosmos plans to conduct two satellite launches in December from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome as the space agency continues a slow shift away from dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan.

The two Soyuz-2 launches will come about 20 months after the inaugural launch from the new spaceport in April 2016.

Roscomos head Igor Komarov outlined plans to gradually ramp up the number of launches from the facility, which has only one launch pad.

The state corporation expects that up to ten launches, including commercial ones, will be held annually at Vostochny, which is still under construction.

First commercial launches from Russia’s new Vostochny space center in the Far Eastern Amur Region are to begin in 2018, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation said. The space center’s commercial launch plan includes those for the OneWeb project aimed at creating a constellation of microsatellites to blanket the entire earth surface for broadband internet access all over the world.

“Two or three commercial launches are scheduled for 2018, six or seven – for 2019,” the Roscosmos chief said….

Vostochny’s construction began in 2012. The infrastructure for the first unmanned Angara carrier rocket launch is due to be ready by 2021, and for the first manned Angara mission by 2023.
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Russia to End Rockot Launches

Rockot launch vehicle

The end of the line is coming soon for Russia’s Rockot (Rokot) launch vehicle.

The converted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has only two more missions on its manifest before the program ends. In the months ahead, it will launch Sentinel 5P and Sentinel 3B Earth observation satellites for ESA and the European Commission.

The Sentinel 5P launch is set for June. Tass reports the Sentinel 3B flight will likely occur late this year or early 2018.

Rockot is being phased out in favor of the newer Angara-1.2 and Soyuz-2.1v boosters, which are capable of launching lighter payloads.

Rockot is a converted SS-19 ICBM built by Khrunichev and operated by Eurockot Launch Services. Flights are conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.

The three-stage booster is capable of lifting 1,950 kg (4,299 lb) in low Earth orbit (LEO) and 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lb) into sun synchronous orbit (SSO).

Rockot has launched 30 times, with 27 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)

The retirement of Rockot ends Russia’s second program that used  in converted Soviet-era ICBMs as satellite launchers. In 2015, the country ended a joint program with Ukraine to convert SS-18 missiles into Denpr launch vehicles.

Dnepr was capable of lifting 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) to LEO and 2,300 kg (5,071 lb) to SSO.

The booster was launched 22 times, with 21 successes and one failure. The last flight was on March 25, 2015.

Dnepr launches were conducted out of Yasny in Russia and Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

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Russia’s Angara Rocket Celebrates (?) 25th Birthday

Angara-1.2 launch vehicle on pad at Plesetsk. (Credit: Khrunichev)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in 1992, the Russian government — newly shone of the republics that made up the old Soviet Union — had a problem. Or rather, lots and lots of problems. Some of them related to space.

Many of the components for the nation’s launch vehicles and space systems were made in the newly independent Ukraine. Its main spaceport was the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the new nation of Kazakhstan. Russia’s independence in space was at risk.

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Russia Plans to Boost Launch Rate, Revenues from Space Station

Igor Komarov (Credit: Russia Forum)

Speaking a day after SpaceX successfully re-flew a previously used Falcon 9 first stage, Russian space officials sought to reassure the public about the nation’s lagging launch rate and outlined plans to increase revenues from  the International Space Station (ISS).

On Friday, Roscosmos head Igor Komarov said Russia was aiming for more than two dozen launches this year.

“We will conduct at least 30 launches from the Baikonur, Plesetsk, Vostochny and Kourou space centers this year,” Komarov said at a meeting of the Expert Council of Russia’s Military-Industrial Committee.

With one quarter of the year completed, Russia has conducted two launches.

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Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Part 2 of 2

There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

Part 1 of 2

The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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IMF: Ukraine Space Sector Possibly Suffered 80 Percent Revenue Loss

The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)
The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares (aka, Taurus II) rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

The International Monetary Fund estimates the Ukrainian space industry lost up to 80 percent of its revenues following the Russian invasion of the eastern part of the country.

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Russia Eyes April Launch From Vostochny

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The assembly of the first rocket to launch from Russia’s new spaceport has begun at Vostochny, TASS reports.

If all goes well, the launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with three satellites aboard will take place during the second half of April, Russian space officials said. The booster will carry Aist-2D Earth remote sensing spacecraft and two student-built satellites.

“The installation of practically all support equipment systems of the Soyuz-2 rocket and space complex has been completed at the cosmodrome. It is planned to complete tests at the launching site by March 25 if the necessary construction readiness is provided. On March 26, comprehensive tests of support equipment are due to begin,” the Center for Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Operation said in a statement.

Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov said the first phase of the Vostochny Cosmodrome will cost the government almost 120 billion rubles ($1.46 billion), according to Interfax. Future work will include the construction of a launch pad for Russia’s new Angara family of boosters.

Russia plans to eventually transfer many of the launches it now conducts from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to Vostochny. RSC Energia is now developing a new crew vehicle named Federation to replace the Soyuz spacecraft. The new vehicle is being designed for trips to the moon.

Construction of the Vostochny spaceport has been plagued by delays, corruption and unpaid wages. On Monday, a leading engineer was charged with accepting a 50,000-ruble ($610) bribe from a subcontractor. Authorities would not reveal the man’s name.

Roscosmos Looks Back on its Life, Death and Rebirth in 2015

Roscosmos_logoMOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — 2015 – the year of the creation of the state corporation “Roscosmos”, the year of the completion of the first civilian spaceport Russia – Vostochny cosmodrome, the year of transition to the new space programs.

Ongoing systemic reform space industry (CSC) of Russia. Each enterprise, institution, organization RKO undergoing serious structural changes. And already the first results – companies developing and producing launch vehicles and spacecraft, carrying out maintenance of ground infrastructure, training of cosmonauts and astronauts become more efficient and sustainable.

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ESA Laser Communications Payload Ready to Fly

EDRS-A ready for shipping. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)
EDRS-A ready for shipping. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — After a year-long wait in storage for a Proton rocket to become available, the EDRS-A laser communications payload and its Eutelsat host satellite are finally at the Baikonur cosmodrome and being prepared for launch in late January.

EDRS-A is the first element of the European Data Relay System, which will collect information from low-orbiting satellites via laser and send it down to Earth in near-real time. It was packed into an Antonov plane by Airbus Toulouse, France and flown to Kazakhstan in November.

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Proton Back in Action Next Month

Proton rocket
Proton rocket
Russia will put its troubled Proton booster back in operation late next month after a three-0month stand down that followed the launch vehicle’s latest failure in mid-May.

A Proton-M rocket is set to liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Aug. 28 with the Inmarsat-5F3 communications satellite. On May 16, an engine failure on a Proton booster destroyed the MexSat 1 satellite.

Proton has been the most troubled of Russian boosters over the past five years, with six failures, 1 partial failure and 11 spacecraft lost. One spacecraft was able to reach its intended orbit using on-board propulsion after the Proton rocket’s upper stage shut down prematurely.

The stand down has caused a backup in the Proton schedule. The launch vehicle is set to oribt the Express AM8, Garpun, Turksat 4B and Eutelsat 9B communications satellites this year.

In January, a Proton is set to launch ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter to the Red Planet.