Russia’s Space Forces will begin test launches of an advanced light-class Soyuz-2.1V launch vehicle from the Plesetsk space center in northwestern Russia, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
The new carrier rocket features a powerful NK-33-1 engine and will be able to deliver up to 2.8 tons of payload into low Earth orbit.
“We are planning to start test launches of the Soyuz-2.1V light-class carrier rocket at the Plesetsk facility by the end of 2012 and complete them in 2014,” said Col. Alexey Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
Zolotukhin said the testing will comprise a total of five launches.
He also confirmed that test flights of a light version of the new-generation Angara launch vehicle will begin in Plesetsk in 2013.
Angara rockets, designed to provide lifting capabilities between 2,000 and 40,500 kg into low Earth orbit, are expected to become the core of Russia’s carrier rocket fleet, replacing several existing systems.
The Plesetsk space center, which celebrates its 55th anniversary on Sunday, carries out regular launches of light class Cosmos-3M, Rokot and medium-class Soyuz-2.1A and Soyuz-2.1B rockets.