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Russia to drop Proton rocket launcher

June 4, 2015

Igor Komarov, who heads up the Russian Roscosmos space agency, stated June 3 that Russia intended to move more speedily to replacing its now troubled Proton launch rocket, reported news agency TASS.

He said that recent failures, including a lost satellite launch in May, meant that rocket builder Krunichev would be switching to its newer Angara rocket. In development since 1994 the Angara had its first test flight in July 2014, and a second last December of the larger Angara A5 rocket in a trial run to geosynchronous transfer orbit. Both tests were successful.

TASS reports that next year the Angara A5 will orbit a commercial satellite for the first time.

At the moment the Angara A5 costs more to manufacture than the Proton rocket, but Komarov says that by 2020 when larger, batch production kicks in, those costs will fall to less than those of a Proton.

The Angara launch programme calls for use of Russia’s own – and brand new – Vostochny (Eastern) cosmodrome in Amur, in Russia’s Far East, and due to be ready in 2018. 

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