Russia successfully test launches heavy lift space rocket after long hiatus

Science & Space

Reuters Staff

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Monday successfully test launched its heavy lift Angara A5 space rocket after a six-year hiatus in a project President Vladimir Putin describes as having huge significance for national security.

Angara A5 space rocket blasts off at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, Russia in this photo released December 14, 2020. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
Angara A5 space rocket is transported to the launchpad at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, Russia in this photo released December 14, 2020. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

First test-launched in 2014, it is being developed to replace the Proton M as Russia’s heavy lift rocket, capable of carrying payloads bigger than 20 tonnes into orbit. A launch pad for the new rocket is due to open in 2021.

The Angara has however been dogged by manufacturing delays and technical issues, including the discovery last year of a defect in its engines that scientists said could destroy it in flight.

The defence ministry and space agency Roscosmos said Monday’s launch, from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the country’s northwest, had been successful however.

Roscosmos has suffered a series of setbacks and corruption scandals in recent years, including during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s far east where contractors were accused of stealing state funds.