Russia to Launch Partially Reusable Rockets by 2026
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has announced plans to develop a partially reusable rocket by 2026. The rocket, known as Amur, has raised eyebrows at SpaceX due to its strong resemblance to the Falcon 9.
The Reusable Revolution
Imagine if every airplane could fly only once.
Imagine if every time a commercial airliner completes a cross-country flight, it is dismantled by a sledgehammer, ditched into the sea, or otherwise incinerated. A ticket to board a single-use plane would be astronomical, and the industry would have no hope of a viable future.
This, however, is the situation with rockets using expendable launch vehicles (ELVs), which despite the much-lauded success of SpaceX’s partially reusable launch system, are still the main method for launching satellites and spacecraft carrying human passengers. NASA’s flagship vessel that will carry out Project Artemis missions — the Space Launch System — will employ an ELV system.
Roscosmos – ELVs consist of several rocket stages that are discarded when their fuel is exhausted, falling into the sea, where they are recovered by ship. The Space Shuttle program achieved partial reusability but was ultimately retired when it failed to bring costs below that of ELVs.
Unsurprisingly, ELVs have a significantly higher cost-per-launch than reusable rockets, with Elon Musk arguing that full reusability will eventually bring the cost of access to space down by as much as a factor of 100. SpaceX achieved its first successful landing of a reusable Falcon 9 first stage in 2015, and now the private space company is working on a fully reusable system (not yet proven viable) for its massive SpaceX Starship.
Other players in the reusable spacecraft race are The Spaceship Company (Virgin Galactic) and its suborbital spaceplanes, Blue Origin with its New Shepard rocket, and now, Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.
Roscosmos’ Amur Rocket
In October, Roscosmos unveiled plans for the Amur rocket, a two-stage vessel with a reusable first stage. This stage will perform up to 100 vertical-powered landings with a design that looks extremely similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9, although the landings will take place on land rather than on floating platforms as SpaceX prefers, most likely due to the rough conditions of Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk.
The Amur is named after its intended place of launch: a cosmodrome in the Amur region (in the south-eastern corner of Russia nearest to North Korea and Japan).
Although it looks extremely similar in design to the Falcon 9, there are some key differences between the two rockets, as pointed out by Space.com:
- The Amur is only 180 feet tall compared with Falcon 9’s 230 feet.
- The Amur can carry 11.6 tons of payload to low-Earth orbit, while Falcon can lift 25.1 tons.
- The Amur’s first stage will have five liquid oxygen and methane engines, while Falcon 9 has nine liquid oxygen and kerosene Merlin engines.
The driving force behind reusability is cost, and it appears that the Amur will be a relatively inexpensive rocket. Roscosmos announced the development will cost no more than $900 million, and will eventually have a cost-per-launch of $22 million. Falcon 9 missions with reusable first stages cost $50 million per launch.
After 2026, Roscosmos intends to provide “the majority of commercial launches in the light and medium class” with the Amur rocket.
Musk Tweets Advice
Roscosmos – In a Tweet on October 6, Elon Musk diplomatically held back from mentioning the many similarities between the Amur and Falcon 9, instead giving the following advice: “It’s a step in the right direction, but they should really aim for full reusability by 2026. Larger rocket would also make sense for literal economies of scale. Goal should be to minimize cost per useful ton to orbit or it will at best serve a niche market.”
This followed a Tweet back in April 2020 when Musk wrote: “SpaceX rockets are 80% reusable, theirs [Roscosmos’] are 0%. This is the actual problem.”
Musk’s latest message was in reply to a Tweet from Ars Technica’s “SciSpaceGuy,” Eric Berger, who did not hold back: “Russia has clearly decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em with its new design for a reusable booster. Alas, no flights until at least 2026 means it will be at least 15 years behind the Falcon 9. Russia is lucky SpaceX doesn’t innovate, hah.”
The subtext here is that Musk expects to have achieved full reusability with the SpaceX Starship by 2026, at which point Russia will only be beginning its journey into partial reusability.
About Roscosmos, facts information
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has announced plans to develop a partially reusable rocket by 2026. The rocket, known as Amur, has raised.
Roscosmos used to be known as the Russian Federal Space Agency, which was formed in 1992. The new corporation was formed from merging the agency and United Rocket and Space Corporation, a joint-stock entity meant to bolster the space sector. Russia’s involvement in space, however, long predates these events. At the height of the former Soviet Union’s space prowess in the 1950s and 1960s, the country racked up several world firsts — including the first human in space.
Roscosmos came to be in a different era, shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The agency poured its scant resources into the International Space Station and to this day remains a major participant in the effort. In 2016, it opened a new launch complex called Vostochny that is intended to eventually take over most of the duties of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, its current primary launch facility in Kazakhstan.
The Soviet-U.S. space race
Soviet experience with space threads through much of the past century. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky‘s pioneering rocketry work extended through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Soviets then supplemented that experience with German V2 missile engineers acquired after the end of World War II in 1945. The United States had another group of Germans from the same program.
Under the auspices of International Geophysical Year in 1957-58, the Soviets launched the world’s first satellite (Sputnik) on Oct. 4, 1957. Some in the United States worried about the influence of communism in outer space. As Americans scrambled to catch up, the Soviets accomplished many world firsts. Among them were the first man in space (Yuri Gagarin), first woman (Valentina Tereshkova), first lunar flyby (Luna 1) and first three-person crew (Voskhod 1). Want Read more facts? Visit space. com
Article source: thomasnet.com
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