Russia will try for the second time to launch its new Angara rocket on Wednesday, Russia’s Interfax news agency has reported.
The first attempt to launch the spacecraft was aborted in late June shortly before the scheduled lift-off due to problems in the rocket’s fuel pumping system. Following the glitch, the rocket, the first new launcher designed and built in Russia since the Soviet era, was removed from the launch pad pending inspections.
Angara, foreseen to eventually replace Russia’s workhorse Proton rocket, is designed as a modular launcher, enabling the engineers to adjust its lifting capacity according to the mission and payload requirements.
Unlike Proton, which is powered by toxic hydrazine fuel, Angara uses a more eco-friendly mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen.
The Angara rocket, built by NPO Energomash is in the centre of efforts by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to not only make Russia’s space industry independent of former Soviet republics including Ukraine, which are involved in the current rocket supply chain, but also to rebuild the reputation of Russia’s once pioneering space sector, which has been shattered in recent years by a series of costly accidents.
More than two decades in the making, Angara is the first rocket designed and built entirely within the borders of post-Soviet Russia.
Russia hopes the launcher will become a competitor of Arianespace of France and Californian-based SpaceX.
But industry experts estimate its development has cost billions of dollars and the Angara rockets will only become commercially viable in another decade if launched from a new cosmodrome Russia is building in the far east.