Russia will attempt to test fly a new heavy lift rocket, designed to eventually replace the workhorse Proton launcher, by the end of the year.
Part of the Angara family of modular launchers that can be adjusted in terms of thrust and capacity to customer requirements, the Angara A5 rocket’s maiden launch is scheduled for 25 December, Russia’s news agency Interfax revealed citing insider sources.
"All relevant departments, including the Ministry of Defence, have agreed on the planned launch date," the source told Interfax.
Earlier this year, Russia performed a successful suborbital flight of the light-weight prototype Angara 1.2pp, completing a two-decade long development process.
The Angara rocket family is the first new family of launchers developed by Russia since the Soviet era and is a vital part of President Vladimir Putin's efforts to revive the country’s space industry. The rocket, designed and produced entirely in Russia aims to reduce the country’s dependence on other post-soviet republics, which were heavily involved in the former soviet space program.
Officials had earlier said the launch of the Angara A5, intended to succeed Russia's troubled Proton rocket, would probably take place in late December but had not set a date. The Roscosmos space agency did not immediately comment.
The success of the Angara program is crucial for Russia to regain the trust of its clients after its Proton rocket failed nine times in previous years, destroying satellites worth billions of dollars.