At the Paris Airshow this year, the Russian Federation debut a new modular family of launch vehicles, dubbed Angara. A sole design of the Khrunichev Space Center, it is designed to replace the Zenit and the Proton as Russia's principle launch system. First flight is scheduled for 2003. This schedule is currently in jeapordy due to funding problems. It has also undergone several design and concept changes since beginning development in the early 1990s. The most interesting portion of this new system, as shown in Paris this year (2001), is the re-usable, flyback, first stage booster, dubbed Baikal. Since, as of this writing, the airshow was very recent, most web resources are not up to date. One that is can be found at http://www.russianspaceweb.com/angara.html.

An Angara launch stack consists of an Angara core, surrounded by two or four Baikal boosters, and topped with an upper stage and payload. Optionally, a single Baikal booster can carry a small upper stage, although the payload capacity is severly limited in this configuration.

The Baikal booster is unique in that it carries a deployable wing and a small turbojet for flight back to the launch site after separation. After separation at 80 km and Mach=5.64, the wing deploys and the vehicle coasts above the atmosphere to a point about 250 km downrange. It then re-enters the atmosphere upside down at about Mach=5.5. It continues to coast downrange and decelerate, rolling upright and making a U-turn just short of 400 km downrange and at about Mach=1.7. It then decelerates to subsonic speed and starts the turbojet in the nose. It returns to its launch site at about Mach=0.4. According to Khrunichev, the booster has already flown in its subsonic cruise configuration.

The Baikal uses a single-chamber version of the proven four-chambered RD-170 LOX/Kerosene engine, which powers the first stage of the Zenit launch vehicle, known as the RD-190/191. It produces 196 metric tons of sea-level thrust. Fueled, the Baikal booster masses 127.5 metric tons. Empty, it masses 17.8 metric tons.


Author's Note: this is a preliminary write-up -- I plan to add more information to this node and create linked nodes for the Angara core and the Baikal booster as time and research permit.

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