Russia to launch Angara rocket for first time from Vostochny Cosmodrome

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 7:02 PM

(Reuters) – The first launch of the Angara A5 space rocket from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome will take place on Tuesday, the state space agency Roscosmos said on Monday, in what could be a milestone for President Vladimir Putin’s space ambitions.

The heavy-lift rocket will test launch from a newly built launchpad at the Cosmodrome – a symbol of Russia’s space power aspirations that has cost billions of dollars and where construction was mired by repeated delays and corruption scandals.

“The launch – tomorrow, at 12:00 Moscow time (0900 GMT),” Roscosmos said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Cosmodrome sits in the forests of the Amur region of Russia’s Far East, not far from the Russian border with China and about 1,500 km (930 miles) from the port of Vladivostok.

It will be the fourth launch for the Angara A5 rocket and it comes nearly 10 years after its first test flight. All previous launches were based out of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia’s north.

The 42.7-metre Angara launch vehicle, capable of carrying payloads bigger than 20 tonnes into orbit, is being developed to replace Russia’s Proton M as Russia’s heavy-lift rocket, which has been in operation since the mid-1960s.

But the project, which Putin had described as having huge significance for national security, has also been dogged by manufacturing delays and technical issues.

In September, Putin met North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un – cast by former U.S. President Donald Trump as the “rocket man” – at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Putin said afterwards that Kim had shown a “great interest in rocket engineering.”

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Lisbon; Editing by Stephen Coates)