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In 1992, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government called for the creation of the new generation of space boosters, which would be built and launched within Russian Federation, ending the country's dependency on the hardware and launch sites in the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union. Within this program, Moscow-based GKNPTs Khrunichev and RKK Energia in Korolev competed for the funding of the Ministry of Defense and the Russian space agency to develop alternative versions of the rocket, named Angara after a great Siberian river.
Origin of the project
Originally, Khrunichev proposed to equip the future Angara rocket with multiple external tanks -- a design somewhat reminiscent of the venerable Proton rocket. On its first stage, Khrunichevs Angara would employ one of Russias most advanced engines burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. Known as RD-170, the engine was already in use on the first stage of the latest Soviet rocket the Zenit. The Angara's second stage would be equipped with a hydrogen-oxygen engine, borrowed from the Energia heavy-lift rocket.
The preliminary design of the Angara rocket was developed under leadership of Anatoly Nedaivoda at KB Salyut. The new launch vehicle was expected to replace Proton after 2005. The rocket could also become a basis for the Neva light-weight launch vehicle carrying four tons and replacing Tsyklon and the medium-class Yenisei launcher designed to replace Zenit. (264)
The competing configuration proposed by RKK Energia was known as Angara-2. It featured so-called modular architecture, where a series of launchers with a wide range of payload capabilities could be built by packaging together a different number of identical rocket boosters. Each booster would be equipped with the modified RD-170 engine.
In September 1994, Ministry of Defense and Russian Space Agency declared Khrunichev a prime developer of the Angara rocket. The official reason for the decision was based on the fact that Khrunichevs design used already available engine from the Zenit rocket, while RKK Energias proposal would require to split the same engine in half, leaving two combustion chambers instead of the original four.
Initially, RKK Energia was awarded the development of the second stage of the Angara rocket. However, during a following redesign of the Angara, Khrunichev became a sole developer of the vehicle.
Ironically, the new configuration of the rocket adopted by Khrunichev turned out to be much more similar to what RKK Energia had originally proposed the modular configuration. The new version of the rocket also required a "split" of the Zenit's engine, but not into the two-chamber unit, but in a one-chamber configuration. In the meantime, long before Angara started flying, Moscow-based NPO Energomash, the engine developer, built a two-chamber version of the Zenit engine for the US Atlas rocket. If RKK Energia had its way with the Angara configuration, the rocket would now had the engine, whose development was paid under the contract with the US!
In the final design of the Angara pursued by Khrunichev, the rockets payload could vary from 2,000 kilograms all the way to 23,000 kilograms, depending on the number of booster "modules" attached to the identical core stage. The "heaviest" Angara, capable of delivering 23,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit, would replace the Proton rocket. As of 2006, Roskosmos claimed that the heaviest version of the Angara rocket would be capable of delivering 26 tons into the low-Earth orbit from Plesetsk. As much as 28.5 tons could be delivered from Baikonur.
According to industry sources, a total price tag for the Angara project reached in 2012 some $5 billion.
COMPONENTS OF THE ANGARA PROJECT
Although first stage boosters of the Angara rocket would be fueled by a traditional combination of liquid oxygen and kerosene, GKNPTs Khrunichev promised to equip upper stages of the rocket with engines burning two cryogenically cooled components -- liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Previously, the company built a similar stage designated 12KRB for the Indian GSLV rocket, which was launched for the first time on April 18, 2011.
The KVTK upper stage sporting the hydrogen-oxygen RD-0146D engine was expected to fly onboard the Angara-A5 rocket. The project officially started in 2009. (556) For the purpose of this program, NITs RKP test center was to revive its hydrogen-production infrastructure, including capabilities to supply this fuel to Plesetsk. As of 2011, firings of RD-0146D for the benefit of the Angara-A5 project were to be conducted during 2012-2014. This work would also prepare a foundation for the next-generation Rus-M rocket, before the program was cancelled in 2011.
In April 2011, Roskosmos announced a formal tender for the development of the hydrogen-fueled upper stage during June-December of that year at a price tag of 500 million rubles ($18 million). Bids would be accepted until May 27 and the winner was to be picked on June 3, 2011. Naturally, GKNPTs Khrunichev was expected to conduct the work. In August 2012, Roskosmos announced a tender of a new phase of the KVTK stage development extending all the way to Nov. 25, 2018, with a price tug of 4.35 billion rubles. Technical requirements for the stage included the capability to deliver 4.5 and 5 tons to the geostationary orbit, when launched from Plesetsk and Vostochny, respectively. It obviously implied that the stage would fly on top of the Angara rocket. The same combination would have to be able to place 7.5 and 8 tons into the geostationary transfer orbit from same launch site, the agency required. The stage would also have to be able to transmit its telemetry to ground control via Luch relay satellites.
As of 2013, NPTs AP development center was working on the inertial flight control system for KVTK, however, according to multiple unofficial reports, the KVTK stage was still several years away from the completion of its development.
In cooperation with KB Salyut, the developer of the Buran orbiter, Khrunichev conceived a reusable flyback booster rocket, which would serve as an alternative first stage in the Angara family. Designated Baikal, after a Siberian lake, the reusable booster was developed in parallel with the work on more traditional "booster modules."
From the outset of the program, Russian military intended to build the primary launch complex for the Angara rocket in Plesetsk, at the site originally intended for the Zenit rocket. The construction of the Zenit launch pad stalled during the first half of the 1990s, and the idea of bringing Zenit to Plesetsk was abandoned altogether due to Russia's financial foes and complex relations with Ukraine, where Zenit was built. During the 1990s, another launch complex for the Angara was also considered for Svobodny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, however, the level of funding of the Russian space program during the 1990s left these plans on paper. Some schemes of building commercially operated Angara launch sites in the equatorial areas of the world were also discussed over the years, again without any real progress "in the field."
Provisional plans to launch Angara from Svobodny cosmodrome were made during the 1990s but never materialized. However following the cancellation of the Rus-M project in 2011, Roskosmos apparently considered bringing Angara with similar payload capabilities to what became Vostochny as a replacement. In turn the deploying Angara in Vostochny would make the Baiterek pad in Baikonur unnecessary. At the time, the construction of the Angara pad in Vostochny was considered as the second phase of development of the new launch center to be completed around 2018. However in January 2013, the Russian Vice-Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that the light version of Angara would fly from Vostochny by 2015.
In March 2002, GKNPTs Khrunichev started negotiations with South-Korean representatives on the possible joint development of the first launch vehicle for Korean Aerospace Research Institute, KARI. According to Khrunichev, it ultimately won the South-Korean contract in a fierce competition with a number of other contenders in various countries.
ANGARA PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
GKNPTs Khrunichev delegated a serial production of Angara's first stage, URM-1, to the PO Polyot in the city of Omsk. Beginning in 2009, the Omsk-based company would also take responsibility for the production of the Briz-KM upper stage of the Rockot booster, as well as its transfer section and the payload fairing. Thus, manufacturing of all key elements for the Angara-1.2 version of the rocket would end up in Omsk. The manufacturing of the Angara at Khrunichev was centered at Building No. 128. The final assembly would be conducted at Facility No. 22.
Khrunichev formally absorbed PO Polyot during 2007 and in the same year, Omsk started receiving technical documentation and blueprints for the Angara. Khrunichev officials promised major upgrade of manufacturing facilities in Omsk during 2008. Also in 2008, a team from Polyot worked at Khrunichev's plant in Moscow on the manufacturing of elements for the South-Korean KSLV rocket, which closely resembled the URM-1 booster of the Angara. During 2009, the production line for the KSLV in Moscow was to be dismantled and re-assembled in Omsk, for the goals of the Angara program. (322) At the time, PO Polyot planned to produce the first Angara-1.2 rocket and five URM boosters for the heavy rocket by 2012. By 2015, the company was expected to turn out 60 URM stages annually for 10 Angara-3.2 rockets and 10 Angara-1.2s. By 2020, as many as 120 boosters per year were to be produced to support 20 missions annually, the official ITAR-TASS news agency promised, quoting director at PO Polyot Grigory Murakhovsky.
According to Murakhovsky, the Angara production required a massive reconstruction of the obsolete factories at PO Polyot with a planned price tag of 3,349 billion rubles, including 771 million in 2009. Around 300 million were to be spent on purchases of new manufacturing tools and equipment. He said that not all of the 329 million rubles allocated for the project in 2008 had been provided and the resulting deficit was included in the 2009 funding schedule. Murakhovsky said that active modernization of the plant was underway, 15 high-tech metal-processing machines had been ordered and the installation of new hardware and software was expected to be completed by the end of 2009. (342)
The manufacturing of Angara launchers for first two missions had been underway at GKNPTs Khrunichev, the company's press-release said in March 2011. Khrunichev also announced that all development documentation for the flight control system had been completed at NPTs AP. The autonomous tests of components for the flight control system had been completed, while integrated and software testing had been conducted at a test stand, Khrunichev announced.
In the meantime, the testing of the RD-191 engine was continuing, with a total burn time reaching 17,000 seconds. The 14D23 engine, which served as a prototype for the RD-0124 engine on the Angara's second stage, logged more than 50,000 seconds in live-firing tests. (By that time, an essentially same engine flew four times on the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1b rocket.)
According to Khrunichev, practically all autonomous tests of Angara's components had been completed, including propellant tanks, dry compartments, main engines, flight control and telemetry systems. The company estimated their readiness as 99 percent.
Companies located in Voronezh, Perm and Omsk were expected to manufacture various components for the RD-191 engine, with the final assembly taking place at NPO Energomash in Khimki near Moscow. In 2011, there were also reports that the serial production of the RD-191 engine was planned at the Proton-PM company in the city of Perm. At the time, Proton-PM planned to produce no less than 60 percent of these engines by 2015 with first deliveries scheduled in 2012. The company also planned to introduce a new factory at the town of Novye Lyady by 2017, which would eventually take over the entire production of RD-191. (471) On May 23, 2011, an interagency commission declared the RD-191 engine operational, clearing it for use on the Angara rocket.
Before 2012, NPO Energomash did supply six RD-191 engines for the first mission of the Angara-1 and Angara-5 rockets and planned to deliver five more units during that year. Around the same time, GKNPTs Khrunichev and NPO Energomash also signed a 5-billion-ruble contract for the production of additional 21 engines during 2013-2015. A total of seven engines would be produced annually during this period, enabling one launch of the Angara-5 rocket and two missions of Angara-1. (563)
In 2008, the first launch of the Angara rocket was promised at the end of 2010-beginning of 2011. During 2009, preparations for the first test mission cleared a major hurdle with three successful test firings of the first stage booster, which also performed well during the first ill-fated launch of the South-Korean KSLV rocket. However around the same time, various unofficial reports said that a delay of the first Angara launch to 2012 would be necessary. In the middle of 2010, the first launch was delayed from 2012 to 2013.
Angara development milestones
1992 Sept. 15: The government of the Russian Federation signs a decree No. 716-53, announcing a tender for the development of the Angara heavy-lifting vehicle. Military Space Forces, VKS, along with the Russian Space Agency, RKA, would be the users of the new rocket.
1994 September: The Russian Ministry of Defense and Russian Space Agency declare Khrunichev a prime developer of the Angara rocket.
1995 Aug. 26: The Russian government sings a decree No. 829 "On measures for providing the development of the Angara rocket space complex."
1999: GKNPTs Khrunichev displays a full-scale mockup of the Angara-1 rocket at the 43rd Paris Air and Space Show in Le Bourget, France.
2001 July 31: NPO Energomash conducts a test-firing of the RD-191 engine for the 1st stage of the Angara rocket.
2002 March: GKNPTs Khrunichev started negotiations with South-Korean representatives on the possible joint development of the first launch vehicle for Korean Aerospace Research Institute, KARI.
2004: Alfa Bank opens a 600-million-ruble line of credit for GKNPTs Khrunichev for the development of the Angara project.
2004 Dec. 9-10: A dynamic equivalent of the URM rocket module is shipped from GKNPTs Khrunichev to the TsNIIMash research and testing facility.
2005 May 25: GKNPTs Khrunichev and Russian Ministry of Defense sign an agreement on the completion of the Angara development and first test flights.
2005: GKNPTs Khrunichev started the development of the South Korean launch vehicle, KSLV.
2006 July: A launch platform for the Angara rocket is delivered to Plesetsk for the installation on the launch pad.
2006 August: Roskosmos promises to conduct the first test launch of the Angara rocket in 2010-2011. According to NPO Energomash, as of August 1, 2006, the RD-191rocket engine accumulated 4,500 seconds of running time in 35 firing tests. The longest firing lasted 400 seconds. The entire test program aimed to accumulate 15,000 seconds of work in 70 test firings on 10 copies of the engine.
2006 Aug. 25-28: GKNPTs Khrunichev and PO Polyot in Omsk signed an agreement to produce booster stages of the Angara rocket in Omsk. PO Polyot would merge with Khrunichev under the agreement.
2007 Aug. 31: The meeting of the interagency coordinating group of the Angara project within Military Industrial Commission considered the development issues within the project.
2007 Oct. 12: The military-industrial commission led by vice prime minister Sergei Ivanov discussed the implementation of the Angara project at the prime-contractor site.
2007 Dec. 6: NPO Energomash conducted testing of the RD-191 engine for the first stage of the Angara rocket, along with the operational hydraulic system and the gimbal mechanism of the engine.
2007 Dec. 27: The KBKhA design bureau conducted test firing of the RD-0124A for the Angara rocket with an electrically driven gimbal system developed by GKNPTs Khrunichev. According to KBKhA press-release, engine worked nominally.
2007 Dec. 29: PO Polyot of Omsk completed its merger with GKNPTs Khrunichev. Khrunichev's director V. Nesterov signed an order creating a branch of PO Polyot within the GKNPTs Khrunichev. (322)
2008 June 18: Head of Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov visits NIIKhimmash engine test facility in preparation for the "cold" and live firings of the Angara rocket stage, which was then scheduled for delivery from Khrunichev manufacturing plant on July 15, 2008.
2008 Sept. 2: The second stage module, URM-2, of the Angara rocket is delivered to the NIIKhimmash test facility in the town of Peresvet, (Sergiev Posad Region) for static firing tests.
2008 Oct. 27: The URM-2 module of the Angara launcher is installed into the fixation assembly in preparation for its static firing at the IS-102 test stand of the NIIKhimmash center in the town of Peresvet, north of Moscow.
2009 Jan. 19: NPO Energomash announced that the last test version of the RD-191 rocket engine was going through final firings after a total of 97 tests with an accumulated firing time of 20,789. The maximum firing time accumulated by a single engine reached 3,635 seconds in 12 tests. At the time, the manufacturer had already supplied an engine for the firing tests of the entire rocket stage and promised to supply first six flight-ready engines in 2010 for actual test launches of the Angara rocket.
2009 April 29: During "cold tests" KhSI-1 at NIIKhimmash facility in Peresvet, around 100 tons of liquid oxygen were loaded onboard the URM-1 stage of the Angara rocket.
2009 June 18: During KhSI-2 test at NIIKhimmash fuel and oxidizer were loaded into the URM-1 stage. Pneumatic and hydraulic systems tested.
2009 July 30, 17:15 Moscow Time: Angara's URM-1 rocket booster (Article I1A1S) test fired for the first time at the IS-102 test stand in Peresvet near Moscow at NITs RKP test facility (former NIIKhimmash). During the test known as OSI-1, the engine was burning for 232 seconds, essentially imitating the entire process of the first stage operation during the orbital launch. According to preliminary information, no major problems arose during the firing. At the time, the second firing was expected at the beginning of September 2009. The total of three firings of the same booster were originally expected.
2009 Aug. 19: Roskosmos and GKNPTs Khrunichev signed an agreement for the development of the manufacturing base at the Proton-PM company in the city of Perm for the mass production of the RD-191 engine.
2009 Aug. 25: A South-Korean Naro-1 (KSLV-1) launch vehicle, fails to deliver the STSAT-2 satellite from the Naro space center, South Korea, due to an upper stage failure, despite initial reports abut a successful launch. However Russian-built first stage, which was identical to the Angara's URM-1 booster, reportedly performs well. The mission was delayed from mid-August 2009.
2009 Oct. 1: Angara's URM-1 rocket booster test fired for the second time at NITs RKP test facility (former NIIKhimmash) in Peresvet near Moscow. During the test known as OSI-2, the engine was burning for 203.4 seconds under maximum throttle possible, imitating the flight profile of the Angara-5 vehicle.
2009 November: The URM-2 upper stage module of the Angara rocket is rolled out to the IS-102 test stand in Peresvet near Moscow at NITs RKP test facility (former NIIKhimmash) for fitting checks. The thermal conditioning and fire safety systems were also tested.
2009 Nov. 26: Angara's URM-1 rocket booster test fired at NITs RKP test facility (former NIIKhimmash) in Peresvet near Moscow. Designated OSI-3, it was the third and final test of Angara's first stage. The test cleared the way to preparations for live firings of the URM-2 upper stage of the Angara rocket.
2010 March 4: The Angara's second stage (known as URM-2 module) rolled out from the assembly building to the IS-102 test stand at NITs RKP in Peresvet in preparation for "cold" tests of the propulsion system.
2010 June 10: A South-Korean KSLV-1 launch vehicle fails some 136-137 seconds after the launch during the powered flight of the Khrunichev-built first stage. A simultaneous loss of telemetry and a bright flash of light are recorded at the time of a mishap. The failure could have major implications for a long-delayed maiden mission of the Angara rocket.
2010 June 17: "Cold" tests of the URM-2 module, checking fueling and pneumatic systems of the rocket stage, initiated at NITs RKP test facility. Live firing of the stage were scheduled for the fall of 2010.
2010 Aug. 3: Official Russian media quote a source at NPO Energomash as saying that the RD-191 engine "burned down" during one of multiple tests. The statement implied that the engine was destroyed in a some kind of planned endurance test, not as a result of a catastrophic failure.
2010 Nov. 18: The URM-2 upper stage module of the Angara rocket fired its RD-0124A-I propulsion system for the first time at the IS-102 static test stand in NITs RKP test facility in Peresvet near Moscow. The 399-second firing simulated the performance of the engine during expected launches of the Angara rocket. It was shut down after one of the propellant components was completely used up.
2011 March 30: A meeting of the Chief Designer Council on the Angara system is held at GKNPTs Khrunichev, Moscow.
2011 May 23: NPO Energomash published a press-release declaring the development of the RD-191 engine completed. By that time, the engine went through 120 firings with a total burn time of 26,747.4 seconds, including three ground tests on the full-scale URM-1 stage and two flights on the Korean KSLV rocket.
2012 Jan. 20: NPO Energomash conducted a certification test firing of the RD-191 No. D016 engine featuring a first combustion chamber manufactured at Voronezh Mechanical Plant, VMZ. A total of 18 firings were to be conducted using three copies of the engine for six tests each. NPO Energomash did not provide any details on the results of the tests, however, the announcement about the test was preceded by unofficial sources reported serious quality problems on combustion chambers produced at VMZ.
2012 April: Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk completes factory tests of the first of two mobile erectors, which was designed for transportation and the installation of the Angara-1 rocket from horizontal into vertical position on its launch pad in Plesetsk.
2012 June 25: GKNPTs Khrunichev announces that a "test-stand" prototype (designated Article NZh) of the Angara rocket was shipped to Plesetsk.
2012 Aug. 22-23: GKNPTs Khrunichev ships the third KSLV-1 vehicle to South Korea.
2012 Oct. 23: NITs RKP test center completed cryostatic testing on the prototype of the upper (third) stage of the Angara-3A and 5A rocket.
2012 Nov. 14: NPO Energomash conducts the fourth of six planned live firing tests of the RD-191 engine intended to certify a combustion chamber manufactured at the Voronezh factory. During the test, the engine had successfully completed its planned 330-second firing profile, the company announced on November 16.
2012 Dec. 25: An RD-0124A engine fired for 753 seconds at KBKhA's climatic test chamber in Voronezh to confirm its performance after nine months of climatic tests.
2013 Feb. 20: NPO Energomash conducted live firing test of the RD-191 engine at its Facility No. 2, in order to certify the combustion chamber manufactured at Voronezh Mechanical Plant, VMZ. The engine fired for 30 seconds and the combustion chamber met all the specifications, NPO Energomash announced on February 21.
2013 February: GKNPTs Khrunichev conducts fit checks between a payload fairing and the Angara-1.2.PP vehicle.
2013 May 28-31: The first Angara rocket is shipped from Moscow to Plesetsk.
2013 July 16 - Aug. 27: Three inter-agency firing tests of the RD-0124A engine clear it for the use on the second stage of the Angara rocket.
2014 Feb. 17: The Article NZh mockup of the Angara-1 rocket rolls out to the launch pad for the second time.
Angara family capabilities (as of June 2009):
Technical specifications of the RD-191 engine:
Technical specifications of the RD-0124A engine (modified 14D23):
Angara development team:
This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak with additions from George Chambers; editing: Christian Cognard
Last update: February 26, 2014
All rights reserved
Scale models of Angara launchers displayed at the MAKS 2001 air show in August 2001. Left to right: Angara-1.1, Angara-1.2, Angara-3 and Angara-5. Even bigger -- Angara 5-UKVM -- was under consideration around that time. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak
As conceptual studies of the future vehicle for manned space program was underway in 2008, GKNPTs Khrunichev added a man-rated Angara-5P rocket (far right) into the launcher's family, as evident in this display at the ILA-2008 air and space show in Berlin. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak
Angara family as seen at Moscow air show in August 2013. Copyright © 2013 Anatoly Zak
These scale models represent a family of rocket engines developed by Moscow-based NPO Energomash. A four-chamber RD-170 engine powering the first stage of the Zenit rocket is on the right. This power plant was "split in half" to create a two-chamber RD-180 engine (center) for the latest version of the US Atlas rocket. The "half" of the latter engine became RD-190/191 -- a one-chamber power plant developed for the modular stages of the Angara family, including the Baikal stage. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2001 Claude Mourier
A scale model of the RD-191 engine for the first stage of the Angara launcher. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak
The first test firing of the URM-1 booster of the Angara rocket in Peresvet test facility on July 30, 2009. Click to enlarge. Credit: Khrunichev
On August 25, 2009, a Russian-built booster powered by RD-191 engine lifted the first South-Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle, KSLV-1, (top), paving the way to the Angara family of rockets. However, the mission itself failed due to the failure of the Korean-built upper stage.
A prototype of Angara's upper stage known as the A5A2S article No. A13 is being towed to a test stand at Remmash facility at NITs RKP test center in Peresvet for endurance tests in cryogenic environment in the fall of 2012. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev
Preparations of the Angara rocket for endurance tests in cryogenic environment in the fall of 2012. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev