Russia’s new heavy lift Angara-A5 rocket has performed a successful maiden flight.
The rocket, designed to eventually replace Russia’s troubled workhorse Proton, lifted off shortly before 9am Moscow time on Tuesday from northern Russia’s cosmodrome Plesetsk.
As reported by Russian Space Web, the Russian space agency Roskosmos confirmed soon after the launch that the rocket’s payload section has reached its initial parking orbit in about 12 minutes.
Angara-A5, the most powerful member of the new Angara family of rockets, will improve Russia’s capability to deliver satellites into geostationary orbit at the altitude of 36,000km.
During the test flight the rocket carried only a payload simulator that will be disposed of shortly after reaching the target orbit. Russian Space Web said Roscosmos will boost the test satellite into the grave yard orbit above the geostationary ring in order not to threaten operating spacecraft.
Earlier this year, Russia has flown the lighter version – Angara 1.2, the first new rocket designed and made in Russia since the 1990s. The Angara programme should help Russia’s space sector become independent on former Soviet republics that have been heavily involved in manufacturing previous Russia’s launchers. The programme, supported by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, should re-establish Russia as a true space power and fix its reputation marred by a string of critical failures in recent years.