WASHINGTON — The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, successfully demonstrated the heavy-lift version of its long-awaited Angara series of rockets Dec. 23 from the Plesetsk Cosmosrome in northern Russia, the agency said.

The Angara-A5 successfully placed a 2-ton dummy payload into geosynchronous orbit some nine hours after lifting off at 8:57 a.m. local time, according to the Moscow-based Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center, the vehicle’s prime contractor.

The rocket featured three common-core stages fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene and was topped by a flight-proven Breeze-M upper stage. The total liftoff mass was 768 metric tons, Khrunichev said.

After separating from the third stage, the Breeze-M delivered the dummy payload to the desired orbit. As planned, the upper stage remained attached to the dummy payload, and subsequently performed two additional maneuvers to reach a graveyard orbit, Khrunichev said.

Angara is a modular series of rockets designed to launch different classes of payloads to various orbits. The heavy-lift version will enable Russia to launch geostationary-orbiting satellites from its own territory. Currently such satellites are launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Proton rocket, which uses a highly toxic hydrazine fuel.

The Angara-A5 flight follows the successful launch in July of a smaller version of the family, Angara 1.2, on a suborbital mission.


Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...