MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) – The launch of Russia’s new Angara carrier rocket has been delayed by at least a year, Defense Ministry officials said on Monday.
The light-class Angara is to be launched in mid-2014 and its heavy-class version toward the end of the same year, Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov said.
The light-class Angara was previously due to be launched in 2013.
Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said in late April that the new rocket would only be launched after the construction of a new facility at the Plesetsk space center is completed.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday showed concern over the delays, saying the ministry would closely watch the development of the new rocket as a high priority project.
The development of the Angara is “very important,” he said. “I will be regularly reviewing its progress in the course of weekly conference calls with the chief of the General Staff.”
Angara rockets, designed to provide lifting capabilities of between 2,000 and 40,500 kilograms into low earth orbit, have been in development since 1995.
The rockets have a modular design similar to the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), based on a common Universal Rocket Module (URM).
The main purpose of the Angara rocket family is to give Russia independent access to space. The rockets will reduce Russia’s dependence on the Baikonur space center it leases from Kazakhstan by allowing the launch of heavy payloads from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia and from the new Vostochny space center in Russia’s Far East.