Russia launch first Angara A5 heavy-lift rocket since 2014

Russia has launched the first Angara A5 mission since the vehicle’s maiden flight in 2014.
The second test flight of the Angara A5 lifts off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome on December 14, 2020 | Image credit: Roscosmos

Russia has launched a test flight of the country’s Angara A5 heavy-lift launch vehicle carrying a demonstration payload.

The second test flight of the heavy-lift Angara A5 was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome at 05:50 UTC on December 14. Approximately 12 minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s Briz-M upper stage and a demonstration payload representing the size and weight of a geostationary satellite were deployed into orbit.

Following a successful demonstration of the launch vehicle’s ability to deploy payloads into a geostationary orbit, the demonstration payload still attached to the Briz-M upper stage was boosted into a graveyard orbit.

With the completion of its second test flight, Russia plans to begin commercial flights of the Angara family of rockets in 2021. The country plans to launch a total of two Angara missions next year, said the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin.

Designed to replace the Proton-M, the Angara A5 consists of two stages with four strap-on boosters and an optional third stage. The vehicle’s development began in the late 1990s and has suffered a number of delays due to technical and funding issues.

The Angara A5 is designed to deploy approximately 22,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit, which is equivalent to a Block 5 SpaceX Falcon 9. It was launched on its maiden flight in December 2014 carrying a demonstration payload that, like this morning’s launch, was later boosted into a graveyard orbit a few hundred kilometres above geostationary orbit.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.