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Friday, March 23, 2018

The secret plan of the Russian space Agency: “Angara” will change to “Phoenix”

After a closed meeting of the Expert Council on space, held in the middle of last week, word got out that we actually leave the cosmodrome “East” without any advanced manned programs. They all returned to Baikonur and moved one year forward. And astronauts with the design of the ship the “Federation” are non-existent until the carrier rocket “Phoenix”, for which at Baikonur already have launch tables. As far as the rumors are true, tried out the “MK”.

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

It all happened after the meeting in Sochi on may 22, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which, as we know, urged the Corporation to speed up the creation of the Russian super-heavy booster, buck does not fall behind the world powers, which make more bold steps. It would seem, here it is: wait finally the political will for the promotion of Russian technology!

But half of the Corporation after this news fell into a stupor: how now, suddenly, with scarce financing, five years to accelerate the development of the “Phoenix” (it see it as the first stage of a heavyweight), and the heavy lifting capacity of 80 tons to bring into space not at 2035 m, and already in 2025? There are still issues: what to do with the range of missiles “Angara” and the starting tables under it on the cosmodrome “East”? What to do with the ship “Federation” — because its mass is initially laid by “Hangar”?..

To restore the whole picture of the years of debate on this subject going back four years ago, when the Russian space Agency chose projects promising heavyweight missiles of the three projects of the Center. Khrunichev, RSC Energia and TsSKB “Progress”. Stopped in the end on the booster with a lifting capacity of 75-85 tons with the possibility of revision to more severe variant 160 tons (this project could become a common brainchild of the three companies). The missile was supposed to be included in the Federal space program for 2016-2025. But quickly the project was deemed too expensive — again, in connection with the lack of useful load, i.e. long-term tasks. According to the head of the Scientific and technical Council of Roscosmos Alexander Koptev, such a missile can pull at 700 billion rubles, but because once again bet on the most budget booster “Angara”.

From the “Angara” was supposed to make a whole range of rockets from mild to severe. Even if I had to fly to the moon, heavy version of “Angara-A5” in four stages could deliver would be in orbit all the necessary blocks. The fact that such a project is possible, with great confidence claimed the chief designer of launch vehicles, developed by “Angara” Alexander Medvedev.

Opponents of Medvedev put forward a different argument — the carrier rocket “Energy”, which in the 80s started the “Buran”. “Today she could lift more than 100 tons, if the country’s leadership and industry made it a bet back in 1994 — said the developers of RSC Energia. — Today is the super-heavy booster in the world, and has successfully passed flight tests in 1987 and 1988”.

It seems that now the proponents of “Energy” again made space swing to change direction of movement. Recently who oversees the space industry, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, gathered experts to discuss the possibility of speeding up the creation of the heavyweight rockets.

Here’s what one of the participants, the head of the space policy Institute Ivan MOISEYEV:

Is unexpected for practice space solution. “Phoenix” — a non-existent rocket, which it is necessary to design, construct, test, and then to send a man. According to previous plans, by 2025, we had to start on it only ground tests. After — flight, and then it would be possible to launch a man. If to expedite this work, we are still unlikely to meet the time frame and funding.

The second question — about the ship “Federation”: on what kind of missile it eventually will fly into space?

Third, it is unclear why we even now super-heavy rocket. After the level of funding for our manned program we can fly to the moon only after 50 years! Our past experience shows that none of our previous project on creation of superheavy carrier had no payload. American “Saturn 5” and “Shuttle” is also not given offspring program was canceled, although they were more successful than ours. Now everyone is talking about the new NASA SLS, but about its aims and objectives are also still more questions…

Another expert in the field of rocket-space industry in the recent past, Deputy head of project research center of FGUP “GKNPTs im. M. V. Khrunichev Pavel PUSHKIN, believes that the decision to leave the cosmodrome “East” it is quite logical and can be dictated by foreign policy considerations:

— It is possible that the return of manned launches to Baikonur due not only needs space (obviously, what with the “break in” the spaceport to launch easier), but also the strengthening of friendly relations with Kazakhstan. As for heavy missiles, as far as I know “Phoenix” is a localized version of the rocket “Zenit” (produced in Ukraine). By developing this project, we help the production. But the main task is to find it under the payload.

However, we note that clarity about the space plan of our country is still there. Official comments from the representatives of Roscosmos was not given.


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