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Angara-5's flight scenario

During its first test launch, Angara-A5 demonstrated its ability to deliver cargo into geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Equator, the destination for most communications satellites. However, the maiden mission only carried a payload simulator, rather than an operational spacecraft. After reaching its target, the 2,042-kilogram dummy satellite, GVM (a.k.a. GMM or NVP PM), was boosted into a safe "burial" orbit, away from heavy space traffic at the geostationary altitude.

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Previous chapter: Preparations for the first Angara-5 mission


Above: The Angara-A5 rocket configured for the first launch. (CLICKABLE)


Above: The flight profile and a ground track of the Angara-5 launches from Plesetsk.

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Flight program

In order to reach an equatorial orbit from Plesetsk, Angara-A5 will need to enter an initial orbit with the lowest inclination possible. Flying eastward from Plesetsk would result in the tilt of the orbit at around 63 degrees toward the Equator, making it the likely parameter for an initial parking orbit during the first Angara-5 launch.

The Angara-5 rockets are equipped with four URM-1 boosters, acting as the first stage, and a single "core" URM-1, performing the role of the second stage. All five URM-1s ignite on the ground, however the core module operates at lower thrust during the middle part of the flight. As a result, the four first-stage boosters consume their propellant and separate first, while the core URM-1 booster can continue to fire.

According to a known flight profile, after 47 seconds of ascent at full thrust, the RD-191 engine on the central booster throttles down to 30 percent of its thrust capability. The four boosters of the first stage separate 213 seconds into the flight at an altitude of around 82 kilometers and impact the ground from 850 to 890 kilometers downrange at the Vuktyl Range in the Sosnogorsk Region of Komi Republic.

The core stage returns to full thrust and fires for a total of 327 seconds. It separates from the third stage at T+330 seconds at an altitude of 161.7 kilometers with the help of small solid motors installed "backwards" at the very top of the rocket's transfer compartment. The stage then crashes in the Tomsk Region, around 2,300 kilometers from the launch pad. The epicenter of the impact site for the second stage is located at the Kolpashevo Range in the Kargasok Region, 70 kilometers southeast of the border with the Parabelsk Region.

Following the separation of the core stage, the URM-2 ignites its RD-0124 engine to accelerate the payload section to nearly orbital speed. In a typical mission, the URM-2 fires until T+750 seconds in flight then separates and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Philippines, 7,775 kilometers from the launch site.

The upper (fourth) stage completes the orbital insertion process with a short firing of its engine to enter an initial parking orbit with an altitude ranging from 180 to 250 kilometers. In the first Angara-5 mission, this job will be performed by the Briz-M upper stage, previously employed on the Proton rocket. As a result, the subsequent flight scenario will likely resemble that of a typical Proton mission to the geostationary orbit.

During a nine-hour period, the Briz-M usually conducts five engine firings to enter an initial parking orbit and then to climb to a geostationary transfer orbit with its apogee (highest point) at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometers. The final maneuver is also used to do most of the orbital inclination adjustment to match the plane of the Equator.

Given the fact that Russian satellites are traditionally delivered directly into geostationary orbit rather than being dropped at an intermediate orbit like it is usually the case with many Western satellites, Briz-M will likely make another maneuver at the apogee of the elliptical geostationary transfer orbit to make it circular at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometers.

After the separation from its payload, Briz-M usually maneuvers itself into a "burial" orbit, where its tanks are depressurized to avoid an accidental explosion producing space junk. During Angara-5's test flight, Briz-M can take its dummy cargo with it, instead of releasing it into the busy geostationary orbit.

The launches of Angara-5 rockets are supported by six ground stations along the flight path of the rocket in Plesetsk, Naryan-Mar, Vorkuta, Yeniseysk, Barnaul and Ulan-Ude.

Angara-5 might need new place to crash its boosters

On September 10, 2014, a poster on the online forum of the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine reported that a recent trip of a survey team to the locations where URM-1 boosters were to be dropped during the first launch of the Angara-5 rocket, deemed them unacceptable for the mission. The group discovered that an extremely dense forest at those sites would make it impossible to recover the remnants of the boosters.


Next chapter: First launch of the Angara-5 rocket

Read (and see) much more about Angara rockets and many other space projects in Russia
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The article, informational graphics, artwork and photography by Anatoly Zak; Last update: July 31, 2017

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: Dec. 21, 2014

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The first Angara-A5 rocket rolls out to the launch pad in Plesetsk for the first time on Nov. 10, 2014. Russian Ministry of Defense


Angara-5 during the first stage ascent. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2014 Anatoly Zak


Angara-5 sheds its four first-stage boosters during a ride to orbit. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2014 Anatoly Zak


Angara-5 sheds its four first-stage boosters during a ride to orbit. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2014 Anatoly Zak


Separation of the second and third stage of the Angara-5. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense


The third stage of the Angara-5 rocket conducts its engine firing. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense


The third stage of the Angara-5 rocket conducts its engine firing. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense


A payload section separates from the 3rd stage of the Angara-5 rocket. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense



A convoy of search and recovery operations in drop zones along the flight trajectories downrange from Plesetsk. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev