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The Angara-7 launcher as of 2006. By 2008, the concept apparently had gone through some evolution, such as streamlining of its payload fairing and the addition of high-altitude nozzle extensions on the first-stage boosters. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak


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


Khrunichev enterprise showcased a scaled model of Angara A 7 for the first time at the Paris Air and Space Show in June 2009. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2009 Anatoly Zak

Angara nozzles

The 2009 version of the Angara-7 rocket featured what appeared to be deployable extensions on all nozzles of the first stage engines. Copyright © 2009 Anatoly Zak


Russia had hardly recovered from the post-Soviet economic crisis at the end of the 20th century, when the country's rocket scientists started thinking big again. The Angara-7 concept would be the first configuration beyond the original family of Angara rockets proposed in 1990s. This mighty launcher was conceived specifically to support manned expeditions to Mars and possibly lunar exploration, that some felt would develop in the future.

Detailed information about Angara-7 was first published around 2006, even though planners at the Khrunichev enterprise had started working on the concept sometime earlier. If ever built, the Angara-7 would double the payload capacity of Russian contemporary heavy lifter -- the Proton rocket. Unlike all previous versions of the Angara family of launchers, the Angara-7 would feature a central core module with a diameter inherited from Proton (4.1 meters). Six standard strap-on rocket modules, known by their Russian abbreviation -- URM for Universalniy Raketniy Modul -- borrowed from previous Angara rockets would complete the first stage.

As in all other members of the Angara family, all booster stages of the rocket would be equipped with the RD-191 engine. However, it appears from the original drawings that the engine on the central core stage would feature a nozzle extension, designed to optimize its performance once beyond the Earth's atmosphere. (316)

The Angara-7 concept was further refined by May 2008, when two variations of the vehicle, known as Angara-7P and Angara-7V, were revealed at the 1st Joint Conference "Space for Humanity" organized by the Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics and the International Astronautics Academy.

The "7P" version, where "P" stands for "pilotiruemaya" (piloted) could potentially compete in the government tender for the development of the next-generation rocket of the manned space program. The vehicle would fly from a yet-to-be-built Vostochny center in the Russian Far East.

The May 2008 depictions of the Angara-7 appeared to show nozzle extensions on all RD-191 engines of the first and second stage.

Along with the booster stages, the Khrunichev enterprise revealed concepts for three high-performance upper stages, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. One of those stages -- KVRB -- would be "customized" for the Angara-7V rocket, where "V" stands for "vodorod" (hydrogen).

Angara A 7

In June 2009, at the Paris Air and Space Show, Khrunichev enterprise presented scaled model of the launch vehicle identified as Angara A 7. It was the first time, such configuration was officially included into the Angara family. The accompanied info described the rocket as "a new generation heavy-lift launcher with the increased payload capability." Such wording closely resembled a terminology used by the Russian space agency during a recently completed tender on the new rocket for the manned space program. Khrunichev officials did indicate that the debate on the future Russian rocket fleet had not yet been over they still hoped to say a last word.

Interestingly, the Angara-7 rocket was displayed alongside a series of manned spacecraft, which Khrunichev proposed several years ago, as an alternative to RKK Energia's Kliper reusable orbiter. Although Russian government chose a concept of the next-generation spacecraft along the lines of Khrunichev's proposals, it ultimately gave RKK Energia the primary role in the development of the vehicle.

Evolution of specifications of the Angara-7 rocket during 2006-2009:

Characteristics Angara-7 Angara-7/KRB Angara-7P Angara-7V Angara A 7
Approximate date of the concept 2006 2006 2008 2008 2009
Payload mass in the low-Earth orbit* 35 tons 41 tons 36 tons 40.5 tons 35 tons***
Payload mass to the geostationary transfer orbit** - - - - 12.5 tons***
Payload mass in the geostationary orbit** - - 7.5 tons**   7.6 tons***
Relative mass of the payload - - 3.2 percent 3.51 percent  
Liftoff mass 1,122 tons 1,181 tons 1,125 tons 1,154 tons 1,133 tons
Payload fairing mass - - 3.5 tons 3.5 tons  

Payload fairing length

22 meters

26 meters


Payload fairing diameter

6.5 meters

6.5 meters

5.5 meters 5.5 meters  
Emergency escape system mass - - 0.5 tons -  
Number of stages 2 3 - -  
Number of first stage boosters 6 6 -  -   
Stage I, II oxidizer Liquid oxygen Liquid oxygen Liquid oxygen Liquid oxygen Liquid oxygen
Stage I, II fuel Kerosene Kerosene Kerosene Kerosene Kerosene
Stage I propulsion Six RD-191 Six RD-191 Six RD-191 Six RD-191  
Stage I total thrust on the Earth surface 1,176 tons 1,176 tons 1,176 tons 1,176 tons  
Stage I propellant mass - - 765.9 tons 765.9 tons  
Stage II propulsion One RD-191 One RD-191 One RD-191 One RD-191  
Stage II total thrust in vacuum 216 tons 216 tons 216 tons 216 tons  
Stage II propellant mass - - 240 tons 240 tons  
Stage III oxidizer - - - Liquid oxygen  
Stage III fuel - - - Liquid hydrogen  
Stage III propulsion - - - Two RD-0146  
Stage III total thrust in vacuum - - - 20 tons  
Stage III propellant mass - - - 19.6 tons  

*Circular orbit with the altitude of 200 km, and inclination 51.6 degrees toward the Equator

**Requires the use of the KVRB upper stage

***Requires the KVTK-A7 upper stage; considers launches from Plesetsk

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Article and illustrations by Anatoly Zak; Last update: November 12, 2011

Last edit: November 20, 2008

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