Russia aborts Angara-A5 space rocket launch for second time

Launch vehicle is capable of carrying payloads bigger than 20 tonnes into orbit

By Reuters

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This handout picture released by the Russian Roscosmos space agency on April 10, 2024 shows a heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region. The launch was cancelled and rescheduled for April 11, 2024 due to a technical malfunction.— AFP
This handout picture released by the Russian Roscosmos space agency on April 10, 2024 shows a heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region. The launch was cancelled and rescheduled for April 11, 2024 due to a technical malfunction.— AFP

Published: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 9:49 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 10:03 PM

Russia on Wednesday aborted the test launch of its Angara-A5 space rocket due to a malfunction of the engine launch control system, the second time in two days that the rocket's blast-off was cancelled at the very last minute.

The launch of the Angara was supposed to showcase Russia's post-Soviet space ambitions and the growing clout of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, located in the forests of the Amur region in Russia's Far East.


But when the countdown clock reached zero for the 0900 GMT scheduled launch from Vostochny, there was no sign of ignition. Seconds later an announcement sounded over loudspeakers saying an order had been given to abort.

An attempted launch the previous day had also been aborted over a technical problem with the pressurising system of the oxidiser tank.


Russia's space chief Yuri Borisov said a third launch attempt would be scheduled for Thursday. He played down the significance of the aborted launches, saying the purpose of test flights was to identify problems, which he said were not unusual at this stage of development.

"A new technical problem has emerged, related, according to the results of a preliminary analysis of telemetry, to a malfunction in the engine start control system," Borisov said.

"Most likely, this is a software error, which will certainly be found today," said. He said Tuesday's launch had been aborted due to a faulty valve.

President Vladimir Putin has grand ambitions for Russia's space program, including planned construction of a new Russian space station by 2027, and has described the Angara project as having huge significance for national security.

The Angara launch vehicle is capable of carrying payloads bigger than 20 tonnes into orbit.

This was due to be its first launch from Vostochny, Russia's only post-Soviet spacecraft launch site. Due to its location closer to the equator, Angara-A5 can deliver a heavier payload to orbit if launched from there rather than from Plesetsk, a Soviet-era facility where Russia has previously carried out three successful Angara test launches.

The setback follows the failure of a

Russian moon mission

last August, its first in 47 years, when the spacecraft crashed into the moon. (Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Lucy Papachristou; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)


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