U.S., China surpass Russia for first time in number of space launches

November 29, 2016 RBTH
Roscosmos officials are not concerned that Russia is no longer the leader in space launches. The space rocket corporation's priorities have shifted to reviving strategic orbital groupings, including for communications and the military, company representatives reported at a recent cosmonautics conference.
Vostochny Space Center
The launch of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the three Russian satellites – Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Source: Olesya Kurpyaeva

For the first time, Russia is not the leader in space launches, with the U.S. and China having conducted more launches in 2016, according Alexander Ivanov to the first deputy head of the space rocket corporation Roscosmos, RIA Novosti reports.

“We have fewer space launches this year than America and China,” said the deputy head during the conference “Cosmonautics of the 21st century,” held in Korolev. He mentioned that other important assignments have been set before the state company, including the primary objective of establishing a number of orbital groupings.

“The federal space program is directed specifically to revive orbital groupings. In the interest of the program, we reduced the number of launches. We created an orbital grouping for communication, an orbital grouping of Earth remote sensing (ERS), and we created some military groupings. That was the primary goal of the Federal space program,” he pointed out.

Ivanov also mentioned that a super-heavy class launcher with a launch pad requires a budget of 1.5 trillion rubles ($23 billion).

Vladimir Soltnsev, general director of the space rocket corporation Energia, reported in August 2016 that Roscosmos had started designing a new super-heavy class rocket, which could become the main space launcher for the lunar program.

According to Soltnsev, the development of the launcher employs the RD-171 engine, which “underlies the concept of a super-heavy carrier.” The third stage for this launcher will be taken from the Angara booster, making it possible to create the new rocket in record time, “possibly in 5-7 years,” says the general director.

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