Russian Defense Ministry to stop using Rockot light launch vehicles starting 2016

The Russian Defense Ministry intends to stop using the Rockot lightweight launch vehicles starting 2016 as part of efforts toward reducing dependence on imported components, Aerospace Defense Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Golovko said in a report to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is inspecting the Plesetsk space center on Wednesday.

The Russian Defense Ministry intends to stop using the Rockot lightweight launch vehicles starting 2016 as part of efforts toward reducing dependence on imported components, Aerospace Defense Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Golovko said in a report to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is inspecting the Plesetsk space center on Wednesday.

"At the present time, Rockot rockets are being launched for the Defense Ministry as part of the federal space program and under international cooperation programs. Four launches are planned in the Defense Ministry interests, three of them in 2015 and one in 2016. After that, the Defense Ministry will be able to perform all missions using lightweight Soyuz-2.1v and Angara rockets," he said.

"Hence, we will not depend on imports related to light class launch vehicles," he said.

The Rockot launch vehicle uses a Briz-KM upper stage whose control system is manufactured by the Kharkiv-based company Khartron.

The defense minister decorated ten servicemen from the launch crew who recently carried out the first launch of the Angara-1.2PP vehicle with the medal For Military Valor.

The Rockot light launch vehicle is based on the two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile UR-100N (the NATO reporting name SS-19 Stiletto), which is being gradually withdrawn from service now. The rocket's launch weight is 107.5 tonnes. It is designed to put spacecraft weighing up to 2 tonnes into low-earth orbits. The Rockot consists of two lower stages based on the UR-100N ICBM's stages and the Briz-KM upper stage.

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