Russia successfully launched Wednesday its first new space rocket design in more than two decades. The Angara 1.2PP rocket was launched from the Plesetsk military cosmodrome in the subarctic north.
The Angara 1.2PP is the first new design since the end of the Soviet Union, reports RT. The Angara rocket is being touted as “environmentally friendly” and was developed by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow.
In its test flight, the Angara 1.2PP rocket traveled 5,700 kilometers (3,541 miles) along Russia's vast Arctic coast, landing at the Kura test range in the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the far east. The test launch lasted 21 minutes.
Russia’s test of the Angara was originally scheduled for June 27, but a drop in pressure in the oxidizer tank of the RD-191 engine, which powers the rocket, delayed the test until Wednesday, reports Reuters.
According to RT, the rocket did not contain a satellite but will be able to deliver a payload weighing 28.5 tons. For a comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which is used to launch the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, can carry a 14-ton payload to low Earth orbit, while its new Falcon Heavy rocket can deliver a payload weighing 53 tons.
Russia, much like the U.S., wants its space program to be completely independent of foreign support, and the Angara rocket program was developed and built within the country, notes Reuters. Russia leases the Baikonur Cosmodrome, used for Soyuz launches to the ISS, in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan but is building a new launch cosmodrome in the far east near China, the Vostochny Cosmodrome, notes RT.
Meanwhile NASA, which currently relies on Russia for manned launches to the ISS, is developing a commercial spaceflight program with SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Blue Origin to bring space shuttle launches back to the U.S.
A video of the Angara rocket launch, courtesy of RT, can be viewed below.