The launched took place at around 12:00 GMT but perhaps owing to the past delays there was no live coverage of the event nor was the rocket carrying a valuable payload. In fact, a dummy payload was carried that will not reach and orbital altitude.
The reason behind the development of the Angara is simple, Russia no longer wishes to rely on either the facilities nor technologies of former Soviet republics. Prior to the development of the Angara, Russia sourced rocket components from the Ukraine, hardly ideal, as well as the use of a spaceport in Kazakhstan. As a result of the repeated delays in June, the coverage of today’s launch was understated at best.
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The Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN was the first to report the successful launch today and stated that Defence Minister, Army General Sergey Shoygu was tasked with reporting the launch to to the supreme commander of the Russian Armed Forces, President Vladimir Putin. (The equivalent title of Obama’s Commander-In-Chief)
The same agency reported later that the rocket had made its anticipated return to Earth. “An inseparable dimension and mass mock-up of the payload, together with the second-stage, has fallen in the designated area of the Kura range in Kamchatka peninsula at a distance of 5,700km from the launch site.”
The modular launcher has a main core that burns liquid oxygen and kerosine and can have additional boosters added to the “universal rocket module” to add power as needed to place satellites where desired.
For this launch, the Russian’s employed the simplest of configurations -the Angara-1 which will have the ability to put four tons of payload into a low-Earth orbit employed by NASA (and Google) for Earth-imaging satellites. The Angara-5 is the heavy-lift version and should be able to put 7.5 tons into the geostationary transfer orbits used by telecommunications satellites.
In addition to today’s launch site, Russia is currently construction the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far east of the country. While for now, no humans will make a trip to space on the Angaras, the manufacturer, Khrunichev, is working on an Angara-5 that could fill that need from the far east cosmodrome.
Russia will continue to launch its Soyuz rockets for manned flights to the International Space Stations from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.