[FPSPACE] major change in plans for Federatsia

David Portree dsfportree at hotmail.com
Tue May 30 18:47:52 EDT 2017

Great overview, Bart! Thanks.


David S. F. Portree


dsfportree at hotmail.com<mailto:dsfportree at hotmail.com>




From: FPSPACE <fpspace-bounces at mail.friends-partners.org> on behalf of bart hendrickx <bhen at telenet.be>
Sent: Sunday, May 28, 2017 5:07 PM
To: fpspace at mail.friends-partners.org
Subject: [FPSPACE] major change in plans for Federatsia

Referring to anonymous sources in the space industry, the TASS news agency reported yesterday that Roscosmos has abandoned plans to build a man-rated version of the Angara-5 rocket (Angara-5P) to launch the Federatsia spacecraft on Earth-orbital missions from the Vostochny cosmodrome. The plan had been to launch the 14-tonne Earth orbital version of Federatsia on its first unmanned solo test mission in 2021, followed by an unmanned flight to ISS in early 2023 and a manned flight to ISS in late 2023. Angara-5 is still expected to make its first flight from its yet-to-be built pad at Vostochny in 2021, but without Federatsia.

The new plan is to launch Federatsia from Baikonur on the new medium-lift launch vehicle Feniks, which essentially is an all-Russian reincarnation of the Zenit rocket with a LEO capacity of 17 tonnes. Federatsia could make its first unmanned test flight from the existing Zenit pad at Baikonur in 2022. The construction of infrastructure for piloted missions at Vostochny has been delayed until an SLS-class heavy-lift launch vehicle becomes available to launch the 20-tonne lunar version of Federatsia on circumlunar missions.

An English version of the TASS report is here :

Although the news of the launch vehicle switch has not been confirmed by Roscosmos, there have been clear signs in recent weeks that this decision was imminent. Here’s a chronology.

RKK Energia chief Vladimir Solntsev first mentioned the possibility of launching Federatsia on Feniks in an interview with TASS published on April 29. Responding to a question whether Soyuz-MS will be phased out after Federatsia enters service, he said that would only make sense if the cost of launching a crew on Federatsia does not exceed that of launching a crew on Soyuz. While this is not feasible with Angara-5P, he said it *is* possible with Feniks (also taking into account the fact that Federatsia can carry a crew of four and, if required, even six cosmonauts to ISS).

Solntsev interview (only available in Russian) :

The following day Solntsev’s comments met with a lukewarm response from Roscosmos’ think tank TsNIIMash, which pointed out that according to the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025 Feniks was not scheduled to begin test flights until after 2025. Moreover, it would first have to be man-rated to launch Federatsia. This would push back the first flights of Federatsia into the second half of the 2020s and therefore, according to TsNIIMash, it would be wiser to stick to the plan of launching Federatsia on Angara-5P from Vostochny in the early 2020s.

See this TASS report (only available in Russian) :

Then on May 22 President Putin held a meeting with space officials in Sochi to discuss the ongoing Federal Space Program for 2016-2025. One of the changes discussed during the meeting was to accelerate the development of Russia’s heavy-lift rocket and, hence, that of Feniks, whose first stage will also act as the first and second stage of the heavy-lift launch vehicle.

See this TASS report (in English) :

Speaking after the Sochi meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin mentioned in passing that “test flights of Federatsia are planned to begin in the framework of a joint project with Kazakhstan on a new medium-lift launch vehicle”. In other words, it would seem that the decision to fly Federatsia on Feniks was made at the Sochi meeting on May 22.

See this RIA report (only available in Russian) :

By now TsNIIMash had revised its earlier stance. On the day of the Sochi meeting TASS quoted the TsNIIMash press service as saying that the development of Feniks can be accelerated by several years because of its commonality with the Zenit rocket. The preliminary design can be finished by the end of 2017, leading to a maiden flight from the Sea Launch platform in 2020 and a first flight from the former Zenit pad at Baikonur in 2021. The rocket will fly from Baikonur under the name “Sunkar” in the framework of the Russian-Kazakh Baiterek venture. The rocket’s maiden flight from Vostochny would have to wait until 2034.

See this TASS report (only available in Russian):

All this seems to imply that Russia is abandoning plans to fly Federatsia on circumlunar missions in the second half of the 2020s. In the absence of a heavy-lift launch vehicle, the idea had been to launch these missions using an uprated version of Angara-5 with a cryogenic third stage (Angara-5V). Such missions would have required two Angara-5V launches in quick succession, one to place Federatsia and a Block-DM type upper stage into a parking orbit around the Earth and the other to launch a cryogenic translunar injection stage to link up with Federatsia. That plan was complicated by the decision to build just a single Angara pad at Vostochny instead of two as originally planned. Although that decision seems to have been made in early 2016, it was definitively confirmed at the Sochi meeting. Due to budget cutbacks, Angara will have a total of just two launch pads (one at Plesetsk and one at Vostochny) rather than four (two at Plesetsk and two at Vostochny).

Apparently, the Russians will not begin flying manned circumlunar missions now until their heavy-lift launch vehicle becomes available to launch them in one go. The idea was to begin test flights of the rocket from Vostochny in 2035. That date may have been moved forward after the Sochi meeting, but all indications are that Russian cosmonauts will now not fly to the Moon until after 2030.

Bart Hendrickx
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