Soyuz-5 rocket to enter service in mid-2020s

WASHINGTON — The Russian firm that markets launch automobiles commercially says it doesn’t count on the brand new Soyuz-5 medium-lift rocket to be out there till the mid-2020s, regardless of leveraging current designs and amenities.

In an interview throughout the Worldwide Astronautical Congress Oct. 24, Evgeny Solodovnikov, gross sales director of GK Launch Companies, says the Soyuz-5 rocket, whose design has gone via many iterations, seemingly gained’t start flight exams till 2023 and gained’t begin industrial launches earlier than 2026.

The present design of the rocket options an upgraded model of the RD-171 engine used on the Zenit rocket in its first stage and a second stage powered by a model of the RD-0124 engine used on the Soyuz-2 rocket. Each the primary and second phases shall be constructed by the Progress Rocket Area Middle. The Soyuz-5 will use the present Block-DM higher stage construct by RSC Energia, who can also be the prime contractor for the rocket.

Soyuz-5 will launch from each the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in addition to the brand new Vostochny Cosmodrome within the Russian Far East. Solodovnikov mentioned that Soyuz-5 will make use of current infrastructure at Baikonur initially constructed for the Zenit rocket.

“The thought is to have most compatibility with the organizational construction and infrastructure of the Zenit area launch system at Baikonur,” he mentioned. These amenities embody a launch pad and processing amenities, which he mentioned would require “sure upgrades” to accommodate the Soyuz-5.

Solodovnikov emphasised heritage as a key promoting level for the Soyuz-5. “They’re making an attempt to keep up most heritage with the out there methods,” he mentioned, though with upgrades to each the RD-171 and RD-0124. “The benefits of the system shall be that it will likely be based mostly on the out there heritage.”

Regardless of that heritage, improvement of the rocket will nonetheless take a number of years. He mentioned a essential design assessment of the Soyuz-5 is scheduled for 2021, after which full-scale improvement and floor testing will start. Flight exams will begin no sooner than 2023, with industrial launches set to start in 2026.

The Soyuz-5 is a medium-class rocket, succesful in its present design of inserting 17.3 tons into a normal low Earth orbit and 5 tons into geostationary switch orbit. “The scale of the rocket will permit it to launch constellations, and nonetheless be capable of compete within the GEO sector,” Solodovnikov mentioned.

He declined to present an estimated price of the rocket, saying solely that it’s going to present “inexpensive entry” in comparison with current and projected automobiles in that a part of the market. There aren’t any plans, he added, to get better and reuse parts of the rocket in a bid to scale back launch prices. GK Launch Companies doesn’t count on to start out actively advertising the rocket to potential prospects earlier than the car begins flight testing.

Soyuz-5 will fill a niche in Russian launch providers, Solodovnikov argued. The Angara-5 rocket, but to enter common service after an prolonged improvement interval, will assist bigger payloads. The Soyuz-5 gained’t exchange the present Soyuz-2, he added, which is able to nonetheless be used for human spaceflight and smaller satellites.

The primary stage of the Soyuz-5 can also be being thought-about as a strap-on booster for a heavy-lift rocket into account, he added. That rocket would use six of the Soyuz-5 first phases as boosters for a car able to inserting greater than 100 tons into LEO. Such a heavy-lift rocket could be prepared for flight exams “very tentatively” in 2028.

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