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All photos and technical details of the Baikal family via Claude Mourier



Copyright © 2001 Claude Mourier

A mockup of the Baikal booster stage displayed at the air and space show in Le Bourget, France, in June 2001. Copyright © 2001 Claude Mourier

Copyright © 2001 Claude Mourier

Nose and tail sections of the Baikal booster. Copyright © 2001 Claude Mourier

Scale model of the RD-191 engine for the first stage of the Angara launcher. Copyright © 2001 by Anatoly Zak




Baikal booster stage

In cooperation with KB Salyut, the developer of the Buran orbiter, Khrunichev designed a reusable flyback booster rocket, which would serve as an alternative first stage in the Angara family. Designated Baikal, after a Siberian lake, the reusable booster was developed in parallel with the work on more traditional "booster modules."

Baikal family overview:

- Single Baikal + upper stage Angara core + 2 Baikals + upper stage Angara core + 4 Baikals + upper stage Angara core + 4 Baikals + upper stage
Liftoff mass
168.9 tons
446 tons
709 tons
700 tons
Payload to LEO*
1.9 tons
9.3 tons
18.4 tons
22.0 tons
Payload to GTO*
1.0 tons
4.4 tons
5.65 tons
Payload to GSO*
2.5 tons
3.2 tons

*For launches from Plesetsk


Baikal launcher overview (one-booster, two-stage version):

Liftoff mass
168.9 tons
Payload to LEO 1.9 tons
Total length 44 meters
Maximum diameter 3.7 meters
Stage I (Baikal) -
Dry mass 17.8 tons
Mass of propellant (LOX + kerosene) 109.7 tons
Stage I propulsion RD-191
Stage I propulsion thrust at sea-level 196 tons
Stage I propulsion thrust in vacuum 212.6 tons
Stage II -
Stage II Dry mass 3.7 tons
Stage II Mass of propellant (LOX + kerosene) 32.2 tons
Stage II propulsion thrust in vacuum 30 tons

The Baikal stage would be equipped with a folding wing, which is stored along the fuselage of the vehicle during the booster stage of the flight. After separation from the second stage of the Angara launcher at the altitude of about 75 kilometers, the Baikal's wing rotates 90 degrees into deployed position.

The Baikal booster stage would be also equipped with an air-breathing jet engine fitted in the nose section of the rocket, which would provide a powered horizontal landing of the vehicle on the runway. Thanks to the air-breathing engine, the Baikal's return to Earth would look much more similar to the regular aircraft than to the US Space Shuttle or Russian Buran, which both rely entirely on the aerodynamic gliding and have only one opportunity for landing. Baikal's jet engine would be fueled by kerosene from the same tanks, which feed the vehicle's main rocket engine during the takeoff.

By 2001, Khrunichev built 4 full-scale mockups of the Baikal stage, which were tested in wind tunnels of the Central Aero- and Hydrodynamics Institute, TsAGI, at speeds 0.5 - 10 Mach (or speed of sound).

According to the Khrunichev's representatives the first flight of the booster could take place in 2006, the funds provided. Unlike the rest of the Angara program, the Baikal development was conducted without direct government support. In June 2001, during the air and space show in Le Bourget, Khrunichev was actively seeking investors for the project.

Although no significant practical steps toward the implementation of the Baikal concept were taken during the first decade of the 21st century, Khrunichev apparently still kept the option on the table. As late as April 2008, speaking to local representatives in Kzyl Orda, Kazakhstan, on the prospects of the Baiterek launch complex, Deputy Director General at Khrunichev enterprise, Oleg Roskin quoted reusable first and second stage of the Angara rocket as the next step in the development of the system.

Written and illustrated by Anatoly Zak

Last update: February 11, 2015

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