In a difficult week for the Russian Space Agency, good news on future space flight in the country was forthcoming when it was reported by the ITAR-TASS news agency that a specialised launch pad – for the Angara Rocket – has been completed.
Fabricated from 16 blocks of up to 50 tonnes each, the pad will be dismantled for transportation to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The Angara heads Russia’s private space flight ambitions.
Ordered by the Khrunichev State Space Scientific and Production Centre (GKNPT), the shipbuilders of the Zvezdochka – usually associated with scrapping nuclear submarines – held a ceremony to toast the successful construction of the 14 meter wide pad.
“The work we have done has opened up a new avenue for us,” Zvezdochka’s director general, Nikolay Kalistratov, told TASS. “It is the implementation of the space programme.”
The new rocket will be the replacement booster of the veteran Proton – and is believed to perform 20 per cent more efficiently than its older cousin.
Angara is set to make its debut launch from Plesetsk in 2008, with potential heavy lift capability of up to 30 metric tonnes. A Russian military payload is set to launch on an Angara-5 next year from the Baykonur space centre in Kazakhstan
“The creation of the Angara launch complex will ensure Russia’s independent access to outer space from Plesetsk, its very first cosmodrome,” added Vladimir Ivanov, deputy director general of GKNPT.