Move Over, Musk: Russia’s Reusable Winged Carrier Rocket to Fly Like Plane

The first stage of the Russian reusable carrier rocket will be winged to enable it to return to a spaceport like an ordinary plane.


The first stage of the Russian reusable carrier rocket will be winged to enable it to return to a spaceport like an ordinary plane.

MOSCOW  Russian space agency Roscosmos is ready to begin the development of a flying prototype of a reusable first stage of a carrier rocket.

“The department for reusable space launch vehicles has been restored. It happened just a month ago. We invited the people who used to work on the Buran [space shuttle]. The department is headed by Pavel Lekhov, one of the designers of the Energia-Buran system,” Roscosmos General Designer Alexander Medvedev was quoted as saying by the Russian Izvestia newspaper.

It is planned that the first stage of the carrier rocket will be winged to enable it to return to a spaceport like an ordinary plane, according to the news outlet.

The idea for a winged first stage of a carrier rocket has been in the works in Russia for some 20 years, according to Medvedev.The first stage of the rocket is the most expensive to manufacture since it is equipped with boosters that define its missile capabilities, the newspaper explained. The cost of building the first stage of a rocket varies between $10 to $70 million.

Roscosmos is a state corporation responsible for overseeing and implementing comprehensive reforms to the Russian space industry.

US to Buy Eight Russian RD-181 Rocket Engines

RD-181 engines


The US company Orbital Sciences Corporation will buy eight RD-181 liquid rocket engines from Russia’s Energomash.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The US company Orbital Sciences Corporation will procure eight Russian-made RD-181 rocket engines, Russia’s space and rocket engine company, Energomash, said Wednesday.

“Orbital Sciences Corporation decided to realize the option for the procurement of eight RD-181 liquid rocket engines from Energomash. The option is to be realized within a contract signed in 2014 on the RD-181 delivery for use in the first stages of the carrier rockets Antares [produced] by Orbital Corporation,” the Energomash’s statement reads.

The Russian manufacturer added that last month representatives of the US company visited Russia and highly estimated the quality management system in place at Energomash.

In 2015, Energomash delivered four such engines to the United States, according to the statement.

At the time of signing the contract worth around $1 billion in December 2014, Orbital said they had looked at several other propulsion providers but had decided to use the RD-181 engines because the Russia-designed engine offered “the best combination of schedule availability, technical performance and cost parameters as compared to other possible options.”The RD-181 deal is the second large-scale deal Energomash has made with a US company. In the late 1990s, the company won a contract with United Launch Alliance to supply RD-180 engines for Atlas rockets. This contract, also valued at about $1 billion, is still in place.

The US imposed sanctions on Russia on the pretext of the Donbass conflict and the purchase of the engines was prohibited; however, Washington had to remove them from the list as they proved indispensable for US space flights.


Russia Develops New Tactical Missiles for Iskander-M System

Russian servicemen equip an Iskander tactical missile system at the Army-2015 international military-technical forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia, June 17, 2015


Russia’s defense industry is developing new missile types for the Iskander-M system, the Army’s missile forces chief said on Sunday.

Russia is developing new types of ballistic missiles for the Iskander-M tactical nuclear-capable missile system, the deputy head of Russia’s missile forces Aleksandr Dragovalovsky told radio station Russian News Service.

Dragovalovsky did not specify the exact types of missiles being developed for the system. Konstrukskoye Buro Mashinostroyeniya, the design bureau behind the Iskander, said in a press release this week that the system currently has four types of ballistic missiles and one cruise missile.

“This system, the Iskander-M, has a great potential for modernization, which is happening in terms of armaments and missiles in particular. That is, the standard array of missiles is growing and new missiles are being developed,” Drugalovsky said.

Russia’s military conducted its first nighttime test of the Iskander-M on Thursday.The missile force chief added that the base chassis is also being made more reliable, and should remain in service for the relatively long term. Drugalovky also said that 9K98 Smerch multiple rocket launcher and its modernized version, the Tornado-S, would receive guided missiles. The 9K98 system currently has a range of up to 120 kilometers.

The Iskander-M is a rapid-deployment tactical system designed for eliminating targets at a range of up to 500 kilometers. It is intended for small-scale targets such as missile systems, multiple rocket launchers, long-range artillery, airfields and command posts.