Russia, Kazakhstan Sign Agreement to Build Soyuz-5 Launch Complex at Baikonur

TASS reports that Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to construct a new launch complex for the Soyuz-5 and Soyuz-6 rockets at the latter’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Kazakhstan will be responsible for ground infrastructure while Russia will develop the new launch vehicles.

The construction will take place at the Baiterek launch facility that previously was to be modernized for launching Zenit boosters. Zenit is a rocket largely built in Ukraine but had elements supplied in Russia. Cooperation on the Zenit program ended after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region and invaded the country.

Being developed by JSC Progress, the Soyuz-5 booster is designed to replace the Zenit-2 and Proton-M booster and serve as the base for a super heavy-lift launcher that will match the capabilities of the retired Energia rocket. Soyuz-5 will be capable of lifting satellites weighting 18 metric tons or crewed spacecraft weighing 15.5 metric tons to low Earth orbit.

There isn’t much public information available on the Soyuz-6 rocket. The new booster will apparently be a shortened version of the Soyuz-5 booster.

Russia & Kazakhstan Move Forward on Baiterek Launch Complex at Baikonur

MOSCOW (Kazakh Government PR) — On October 31, 2020, a working meeting was held in Moscow between the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bagdat Musin and the General Director of the state corporation for space activities Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin.

The parties discussed topical issues of Kazakh-Russian cooperation in the space sphere, including the further development of the Baikonur complex. Issues related to the Baiterek (Nazarbayev start) and Gagarin start projects were discussed.

(more…)

Angara Launch Complex at Baikonur Slips Another 2 Year in Just 3 Months

Angara rocket engine test

Russia’s much-delayed Angara rocket suffered another setback this week as officials announced a two-year slip in the construction of its Baiterek launch complex at Baikonur:

The Kazakh and Russian space agencies first agreed in January to put off the Baiterek commissioning date until 2015 due to insufficient funding.

“Over the period from 2004 to 2010, the project costs have increased significantly. The commission date has also been moved further to 2017,” said Meyrbek Moldabekov, deputy chairman of the National Space Agency of Kazakhstan (Kazcosmos).

Moldabekov said the delay was caused by slow progress in flight tests of Russia’s new carrier rocket Angara, the main type of rocket that will be used at Baiterek.

“In addition, the errors in the initial draft design of Baiterek have led to the need to change the location and build a separate technical center,” the official said.

Angara is currently set to make its first test flight in 2013, which is a slip of several years from earlier schedules. Russia is constructing a launch complex at its Plesetsk Cosmodrome for Angara, which runs on more environmentally benign fuel and will replace several existing boosters.