Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos has completed the design of a Amur-SPGmedium carrier rocket with a liquefied natural gas (methane) and liquid oxygen as the propellant, reports Sputnik. The new rocket is set to replace the Soyuz-2 family of launch vehicles. The Amur-SPG rocket is being developed by the Russian SRC Progress (space rocket center) at a cost of about $880 million.
It is planned to create a super-heavy launch vehicle … [with] six side blocks around the central one – all with the RD-182 engine [operating on methane], and the upper stage using the RD-0169 [engine]”, said a source to the news site Sputnik.
As per the Russian sources, the first stage could be reused up to ten times. In the reusable mode, the rocket will be able to launch 10.5 tonnes of cargo into low-Earth orbit from Russia’s Vostochny spaceport. The expandable or the regular rocket will be able to carry 12.5 metric tons of cargo.
The reusable rocket is designed to have a takeoff weight of about 360 tonnes and will be 55 meters high and 4.1 meters in diameter. The launch vehicle will comprise a reusable first stage and a non-recoverable second stage. Both of them will use methane-fueled engines. The cost of launching the rocket with first-stage being reused will be $22 million as per the tender documentation for the rocket. If the first stage is not being reused, the cost per launch is expected to be below $35 million.
The state space corporation Roscosmos has set the launch deadline for 2026. The ground tests of the rocket’s engines based on the methane propellant are expected to be completed by late 2024.