Rocket Returned to Launch Pad for Second Lift-Off Attempt
Published: July 8, 2014 (Issue # 1818)
Russia's brand-new Angara rocket was returned to the launch pad on Monday morning after a last minute complication scrubbed a launch attempt last month, and is undergoing prelaunch preparations for a Wednesday lift-off, sources at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome said.
A source at the cosmodrome told RIA Novosti that the launch vehicle is now on the launch pad and is scheduled to be raised into vertical position on Monday.
Angara is Russia's first rocket of entirely post-Soviet design and attempts to ween Russia's ailing space industry off parts made in former Soviet countries by using exclusively domestic components.
The rocket was commissioned in 1994 in response to the partitioning of the once labyrinthine Soviet space industry amongst the former Soviet states when the communist state disintegrated in 1991. The Russian government was worried that countries with vital industrial assets, such as Ukraine, may one day withhold components needed for Russian space vehicles.
This dependence has been highlighted by the collapse in Russian-Ukrainian relations in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March. Two weeks ago, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko banned military-industrial cooperation with Russia, although it is not yet clear what effect, if any, this will have on space cooperation between the two nations. The two countries' space and defense industries are still highly integrated.
The new Russian rocket was originally scheduled to launch on June 27, but a drop in pressure in Angara's oxidizer tank moments before launch prompted its flight computer to automatically cancel the launch. The rocket was then taken off the pad and returned to its assembly building to remedy the problem and ensure the vehicle was in full working order.
Russian space officials have been reluctant to name a date for Angara's next launch attempt, but industry sources told various Russian media outlets over the weekend that preparations at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome — located in Arkhangelsk region in northern Russia — are underway for a launch on July 9.
The Khrunichev Space Center — the Angara program's main contractor and builder of the Proton rockets — has yet to release any official statements concerning Angara's fate.