Commercial missions of the brand new Angara rocket may begin in 2016, a source in the Russian rocket and space industry told Interfax-AVN on Wednesday.
"Company ILS which is marketing heavy-lift rockets of the Khrunichev State Space Center has been permitted to launch one Angara in 2016," the source said.
Angara General Designer Vladimir Nesterov told Interfax-AVN earlier that test flights of the rocket would be complete in 2020. "In all, there will be ten test flights, five for the light vehicle and another five for the heavy-lift rocket. After that we will be ready for its commissioning," he said.
"Both vehicles will carry payloads in their next launches because it makes no sense to spend so much money on orbiting spacecraft mockups," Nesterov said.
A light Angara-1.2PP (perviy zapusk, or first launch) blasted off from Plesetsk on July 9, 2014, with a test payload on board.
The maiden launch of the heavy-lift Angara-A5 was conducted from Plesetsk on December 23, 2014. It made the first delivery of a test payload to a geostationary orbit from the Russian territory.
The Defense Ministry and the Federal Space Agency are government customers ordering the Angara rocket. Its main designer and manufacturer is the Khrunichev State Space Center.
The Angara is based on universal modules, which transform it into light, medium and heavy-lift vehicles. It can deliver practically the entire range of prospective payloads to any altitude and orbit inclination, including geostationary orbits.
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