Image: ACV
Rob Coppinger / Space.com
A scale model of Russia's Advanced Crew Vehicle is displayed at this month's Farnborough International Airshow in England. Its designers say the spacecraft will be able to carry six crew members and 1,100 pounds of cargo.
By Contributor
updated 7/20/2012 9:24:46 PM ET 2012-07-21T01:24:46

Russia's next new manned spacecraft will launch atop a different rocket than planned, one originally designed for only robotic spacecraft. The country's new six-cosmonaut spacecraft is due to lift off on its first test flight in 2018, using a launcher named Angara A5 developed for unmanned missions.

The new six-cosmonaut spacecraft, which is called the Advanced Crew Vehicle, or ACV, was to have been launched by another new rocket, Rus-M. The Rus-M was to be an evolution of the Samara Space Center's Soyuz FG rocket that launches the Soyuz manned spacecraft. But Rus-M was canceled last year, while ACV was continued despite no launcher being identified for it.

As well as carrying six cosmonauts, the ACV will carry 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) of cargo and could travel to the moon. Like the Soyuz capsule, which Russia currently uses to launch humans to orbit, the ACV will use rockets to land.

Image: Angara A5
Rob Coppinger / Space.com
A scale model of the Angara A5 was on display at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. The Angara A5 will be human-rated to carry the Advanced Crew Vehicle.

Rocket family
The Angara A5 is the heavy version of Angara, a family of four rockets based on a common core architecture. The Universal Rocket Motor is the common core that uses liquid oxygen and kerosene. The A5 has five of these cores combined for a total liftoff mass of 1.7 million pounds (770,000 kilograms), and the rocket will be able to put 53,900 pounds (24,500 kilograms) into a 124-mile-high (200-kilometer-high) orbit. [World's Tallest Rockets: How They Stack Up]

Soyuz is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and Angara will fly from the planned Baiterek facility, also at Baikonur, after its first few flights from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

Vladimir Popovkin, the director general of Russia's Federal Space Agency, told Space.com that "the main launcher for the new spacecraft will be Angara," after explaining that earlier testing of the spacecraft’s technology, such as its launch escape system, will use the Ukrainian Yuzhnoye Design Bureau’s Zenit rocket.

Tested by Korea
Popovkin spoke to Space.com at his space agency's exhibit at the Farnborough International Airshow in England, which took place July 9-15. On exhibit by the Russian agency were scale models of the ACV and an Angara A5 and ACV stack with its launch escape system.

He added that Angara rocket technology has already been tested. South Korea’s Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV) uses it for its first stage, which is provided by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, Angara’s prime contractor. On KSLV's maiden flight in August 2009, the vehicle's first stage was successful, but the Korean-made upper stage failed. That upper stage failed again a year later on the second flight. Later this year the third launch of the KSLV will take place.

The first launch of the Angara family is scheduled for 2013 — years later than originally planned.

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The Angara family has been in development since the 1990s, but funding problems have delayed its entry into service. This year's first flight will see the smallest of the four, the A1.2, fly.

Using one core, the A1.2 liftoff weight is 376,000 pounds, and the payload capability for a 124-mile orbit is 8,300 pounds. There was a smaller Angara, the A1.1, with a 4,400-pound payload ability, but plans for that vehicle have been canceled. It and the A1.2 were supposed to fly by 2011.

There is a super-heavy version of Angara, the A7, in the works. This has a 2.4 million-pound liftoff weight, and its 124-mile orbit payload capability is 77,000 pounds.

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Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

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  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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