As part of an effort to reduce dependence on imports, Russian Ministry of Defense decided to stop using Rokot light launch vehicles in 2016. Prior to this date four launches will be carried out on behalf of the ministry, Commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces, Lieutenant General, Alexander Golovko, told the Minister of Defense, Sergey Shoygu, ITAR-TASS reports.
"Today the launches of Rokot light launch vehicles are carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Defense in the network of the Federal Space Program and international cooperation programs. Four more launches will be carried out in the interests of the ministry: three ones – in 2015 and one more – in 2016. In future the Russian Ministry of Defense will be operating Soyuz-2.1v and Angara light launch vehicles", - Golovko said.
"Thus we will no longer depend on imports in terms of light launch vehicles", - Shoygu said during his visit to Plesetsk cosmodrome.
The Minister awarded 10 members of the launch crew, which carried out the first launch of Angara-1.2PP launch vehicle, with medals “For Military Valor”. Having congratulated the members of Russian armed forces, the minister said that they have demonstrated the Russia’s ability to assure “independent and guaranteed access to the space". "I would like to admit the high skills and teamwork of the launch crew and the cosmodrome’s personnel, which have honorably performed their duties", - Shoygu said.
Rokot launch vehicle (LV) was developed by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre; the enterprise manufactures the LV in the network of a conversion program: the LVs are manufactured on the basis of RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles (NATO: SS-19 Mod 2, "Stiletto"; put into service on December 17th 1980).
Rokot light launch vehicle has three stages. The first two ones are boosters of the RS-18 ballistic missile; the third one – Briz-KM upper stage (manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre). The vehicle’s mass is 107,5 tons, length - 28 meters, diameter - 2,5х2,62 meters. It is designed for placing spacecraft with a weight of 1950 – 2300 kg into orbit. Payload fairing allows placing several spacecraft under it.
In the course of the testing the rocket was launched from launching silo of RS-18 system. At present Rokot LVs are launched from Plesetsk cosmodrome, where Kosmos-3M launch site was retrofitted to carry out launches of the rocket. A total of 21 launches have been performed (11 commercial ones and 10 ones – in the network of the Russia’s space program), two of them failed. The commercial operation of the LV is carried out by Russian-German joint-venture Eurockot, established by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre (49% of shares) and EADS Astrium (51%).