UP AND AWAY: Russia Announces Ground-based Design for Reusable Space Rocket Launcher

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A functional prototype of a space rocket launcher will be built in Russia by 2023, according to the Russian Advanced Research Foundation.

The project, which takes into account similar experiences carried out elsewhere, such as SpaceX by Elon Musk, will begin to be developed in the middle of 2019.

The flying base of the Russian reusable space rocket launcher will also be able to return to the space center at a hypersonic speed.

“The subsonic prototypes that are being planned to be built in the next four years will be used in the practice of automatic landing and flying at subsonic speeds while hypersonic prototypes will be used respectively to practice flights at hypersonic speeds,” said a Foundation official of Advanced Research in Russia.

“The development and testing should result in a demonstration of full operation with the rocket engine that will perform the entire test cycle, starting with the launch and flight at the required height and ending with the return and landing,” he added.

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He further specified that the Baikal project, which was developed by the Khrunichev Center, was used as the basis for the prototype for the future reusable rocket launcher.

This comes as Russian cosmonauts Aleksey Ovchinin and Sergey Prokopyev will participate in a space mission on November 15 to analyze a micro-hole in the hull of the Soyuz spacecraft. They will conduct the analysis in orbit and outside the spacecraft, Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday.

On August 30, International Space Station (EIA) crew detected an air leak from a microfracture in the hull of the Soyuz MS-09, docked at the ISS. The hole was closed on the same day to restore the hermetic integrity of the station.

“A space walk is scheduled for November 15. This is a planned trip, to which we have added a task,” Roscosmos Deputy Director General Nikolay Sevastyanov told reporters during a press conference.

In the meantime, Roscosmos Deputy CEO Sergei Krikalev has specified that cosmonauts will try to open the thermic blanket and micrometeorite protection of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft to investigate the hole on the outer side of the spacecraft and assess the presence of protrusions in the hull.

In addition, Ovchinin and Prokopyev will try to find remains of sealant material, with which the hole may have been plugged during the spacecraft’s production, Krikalev said.

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