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Russia says space launch vehicles tests to start on schedule

RIA Novosti

12/10/2007 13:33 MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti) - The first tests of a new breed of Russian space launch vehicles, Angara carrier rockets, will start on schedule in 2011, a Russian first deputy prime minister said on Friday.

The Angara carrier rockets are a new generation of Russian modular launch vehicles developed by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center. They will be powered by engines fueled with eco-friendly liquid oxygen-kerosene mixture.

"There will be no schedule revision," Sergei Ivanov said at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission under the Russian Government. "The tests must begin in 2011."

The Angara development program, launched by presidential decree in 1995, has suffered a number of setbacks and delays.

Ivanov said that the main problem in the development of the new launch complex was the shortage of professional cadre and design documentation for the construction of Angara launch facilities at the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia.

"Construction works at the Plesetsk center cannot start until the proper documentation is ready," Ivanov added.

He reiterated that the launch ground facilities were to be complete in July-August 2010, and that the first launch tests ought to be conducted in the first quarter of 2011.

"We must not fall back in the global space race," Ivanov said, adding that Angara boosters, together with Soyuz-2 spacecraft, would guarantee Russia's access to space in the future.

The Angara vehicles comprise of light-weight, medium, and heavy-lift variants. The maximum launch weight is 773 metric tons, with a payload of up to 24.5 tons, and an orbit altitude of 200km (124 miles).

Angara is designed to compliment, and eventually replace, the existing line of Rockot and Proton boosters. It will be used both for military and civilian purposes under the Federal Space Program and various international space programs.

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