A decision on starting work on the conceptual design of a new Russian super-heavy carrier rocket may be taken in the coming weeks, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS on Wednesday.
"State Space Corporation Roscosmos is expected to issue a resolution in the coming weeks on the conceptual designing of the super-heavy carrier rocket," the source said.
This work will last 18-24 months. Over this period, developers should determine the rocket’s design and its technical characteristics and outline the missions, for which it can be used. Roscosmos’s resolution will also define the parent organization and cooperation for the launcher’s development.
All the stages of the rocket’s designing should be approved in accordance with the rules by Roscosmos’ chief research institute TsNIImash and its scientific and technical council, the source added.
It was reported earlier that the first launch of the super-heavy carrier rocket was planned already for 2028 while its launch pad at the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East should be ready by 2027. The work to build the launch infrastructure will begin after the construction of the launch pad for the Angara rocket is over. Roscosmos has not commented on this information.
As a source in the rocket and space industry said, the launch pad for the super-heavy rocket will be built using the principles implemented for the Energiya carrier rocket at the Baikonur cosmodrome (site No. 250). This will be a universal site for the launches of both Soyuz-5 medium-class carrier rockets and the combinations of two, three and five such rockets (similar to the combination of the Angara rocket family with the use of one, three or five blocks for assembling rockets with a different lift capacity).
Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation CEO Vladimir Solntsev presented at a Moscow conference in 2016 his project of an Energiya-5V super-heavy carrier rocket designed for a manned mission to the Moon. According to him, the upper hydrogen stage of the Angara-A5V carrier will be used in the super-heavy rocket’s development along with the first and second stages of the promising Soyuz-5 medium-class rocket.
A source in the rocket and space industry later told TASS that Energiya had defined the approximate design of two types of rockets intended for implementation: the Energiya-5V-PTK and the Energyia-5VR-PTK with the liftoff weight of 2,368 and 2,346 tonnes, respectively.
Both variants are capable of delivering about 100 tonnes of payload into the low-Earth orbit, and also 20.5 tonnes into the near-Moon orbit, which is tantamount to the weight of the lunar version of the Federatsiya spacecraft.
Instead of a spacecraft, a lunar take-off and landing module can be mounted on a carrier rocket. An inter-orbital tug based on the DM acceleration unit is intended to be used for delivering the Federatsiya spacecraft or a lunar take-off and landing module to the Moon.
In Roscosmos’s estimates, the development of the super-heavy rocket and the construction of infrastructure for it at the Vostochny cosmodrome will cost 1.5 trillion rubles ($25 billion).
Roscosmos also earlier stated that there was no need to hurry up with the creation of a super-heavy carrier rocket as no payloads were available for it.
At the same time, as Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation said, the development of a Russian super-heavy carrier rocket will be 1.5 times cheaper than the re-production of the Soviet-era Energiya carrier.
The creation of the Energiya rocket and the Buran space shuttle became the most impressive program in the history of domestic space rocket-making, with the annual financing volume reaching 1.3 billion rubles by 1985. The first launch of the Energiya rocket took place on May 15, 1987 at the Baikonur space center. The Energiya became the first Soviet rocket that used hydrogen in the rocket’s main stage. The Energiya was also the most powerful of domestic rockets.