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Angara to move to Vostochny
After the cancellation of the Rus-M project in 2011, Russian space agency hatched plans to bring yet-to-be-tested Angara launch vehicle to Vostochny. The launch facility could be built at the same site that was originally eyed for the Rus-M's dual pad.
Origin of the plan
Provisional plans to launch Angara from Svobodny cosmodrome were made during the 1990s but never materialized. However following the cancellation of the Rus-M project in 2011, Roskosmos returned to the idea of bringing Angara (with similar payload capabilities to Rus-M) to what became Vostochny as a replacement. In turn, deploying Angara in Vostochny would make the Baiterek pad in Baikonur unnecessary. At the time, the construction of the Angara pad in Vostochny was considered as the second phase of development of the new launch center to be completed around 2018. However in January 2013, the Russian Vice-Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that the light version of Angara would fly from Vostochny by 2015.
As of beginning of 2012, the unmanned version of Angara was reported to be able to carry up to 24 tons to the low Earth orbit from Vostochny, comparing to just 18 tons possible for delivery to the same orbit from its pad in Plesetsk. The same rocket could also place from 3.5 to 3.6 tons to a geostationary orbit from Vostochny, according to the head of Roskosmos.
The Amur OKR development plan
Under Roskosmos' tender announced in July 2012 and code-named Amur (after a great Siberian river), the Angara-5 rocket would be customized to fly from Vostochny, carrying a 20-ton new-generation PTK NP spacecraft. The first phase in the development of the Amur project would run until the end of May 2013, Roskosmos said.
In addition to its role in the manned space program, the Angara's launch complex in Vostochny would complement or even replace the original Angara facility in Plesetsk for launches into a geostationary orbit. Thanks to a much better geographical location of Vostochny for launches to the equatorial orbit, Angara-5 could carry a larger payload when compared to the launches of the same vehicle from Plesetsk. For missions to the geostationary orbit from Vostochny, Angara-5 would be equipped with the cryogenic KVTK upper stage when carrying its largest payloads and with the Block-DM stage for smaller satellites.
Given the extremely remote location of the Vostochny launch site in the Russian Far East and limitations of region's rail lines for non-standard cargo, Roskosmos hoped to break with the tradition of shipping rocket stages to the launch site by train. Instead, the agency considered a possibility of taking advantage of Russia's An-124-100 Ruslan transport aircraft for the delivery of Angara's rocket stages.
The development timeframe
In April 2013, the head of Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin said that the agency would request government funding for the construction of the Angara pad in Vostochny beginning in 2015 to avoid disbanding the workforce after the completion of the Soyuz pad in the Far East. The plan would require the government funding for the project to start a year earlier than originally planned.
At least some preliminary construction work at the site was promised to begin as early as 2013, and satellite imagery did show apparent clearing activities in the first half of the year. At the time, the first manned launch from the site was officially promised as early as 2018, but more likely it could take place around or after 2020.
On Oct. 23, 2013, Roskosmos announced a tender for the development of the launch complex 371SK32 for the Angara rocket in Vostochny. The agency allocated 813 million rubles for the work on the project code-named SK-Vostok-A (which stood for Launch Complex-Vostochny-Angara) until Nov. 25, 2014. This phase of the project was characterized as Opytno-Konstruktorskie Raboty, OKR, which can be translated as research and development work. In the Russian industrial terminology it usually refers to a second phase of development following the preliminary design.
As it was expected, Roskosmos essentially ordered to replicate in Vostochny the launch facility for the Angara-A5 that had been previously developed for Russia's northern launch site in Plesetsk. The agency's paperwork called for a two-pad launch facility to be developed into two phases. The first pad would be built to support three-stage Angara-A5 rockets with DM and KVTK upper stages. The pad would have to be modifiable for a three-stage Angara-A5 rocket carrying manned PTK NP spacecraft, the tender documentation said. The second pad could accommodate both manned and unmanned versions of the rocket.
At the time, Russian space officials still promised the first manned launch from Vostochny in 2018. However in February 2014, Roskosmos quoted its head Oleg Ostapenko as saying that the development of the Angara complex in Vostochny was subdivided in two phases: first -- the construction of the PU-1 launch pad (where PU stands for puskavaya ustanovka or "launch pad") for unmanned version of the rocket and, only later -- the development of the PU-2 pad for the manned version of Angara. The announcement stressed that in order to complete the first (unmanned) pad in 2018, the construction would have to start in 2015. The statement essentially confirmed that the launch date of the first manned mission from Vostochny in 2018, which had often been quoted by the official media, had not acctually been possible.
At the same time, Roskosmos announced that in December 2013, the survey work had been completed at the Angara site in Vostochny and the location of its facilities around the center had been determined. In addition, a cargo simulator of the Angara rocket had completed a dry run from the production factory at GKNPTs Khrunichev in Moscow to Vostochny, Roskosmos said on February 24, 2014.
Payload capabilities of the Angara-5 rocket launching from Vostochny (as of July 2012):
*will require an additional maneuver with a delta V of 1,500 meters per second to enter the geostationary orbit
Geographical coordinates of the Angara-5 launch pad in Vostochny according to the OKR Amur plan:
Key events in the development of the Angara pad in Vostochny:
2011 October: The Rus-M project cancelled.
2012 July: Roskosmos announces a tender for the Amur development project, OKR, aimed to bring the Angara-5 rocket to Vostochny.
2013 April: Roskosmos promises to request funding for an Angara pad in Vostochny beginning in 2015.
2013 May 31: A deadline for the completion of work on the first phase of the Amur project.
2013 December: The survey work was completed at the Angara site in Vostochny and the location of its facilities around the center had been determined.
Page author: Anatoly Zak
Last update: February 24, 2014
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A scale model of the launch complex originally intended for the Rus-M rocket.
Artist renderings depicting Angara rocket on its launch pad in Plesetsk. A similar facility could be built in Vostochny at the site originally intended for the cancelled Rus-M rocket. Credit: TsENKI