SUNKAR WILL BE BUILT IN SAMARA BY 2024

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SUNKAR WILL BE BUILT IN SAMARA BY 2024
SUNKAR WILL BE BUILT IN SAMARA BY 2024

Ivan Cheberko

Izvestia, August 25, 2016, p. 3

State corporation Roscosmos transferred to Kazakh partners description of a project for creation of space rocket system Sunkar that had to substitute Zenit rocket made in Ukraine and would become the main commercial rocket of Baikonur cosmodrome in the next decade.

RUSSIAN ROCKET SUNKAR WILL SUBSTITUTE UKRAINIAN ZENIT AS THE MAIN COMMERCIAL ROCKET AT BAIKONUR

State corporation Roscosmos transferred to Kazakh partners description of a project for creation of space rocket system Sunkar that had to substitute Zenit rocket made in Ukraine and would become the main commercial rocket of Baikonur cosmodrome in the next decade.

Description of the project says that the rocket will be created by Samara-based rocket space center Progress with support of the Khrunichev Center and Rocket Center named after Makeev. Along with this, rocket space corporation Energia will act as the main developer of Baiterek system. Roscosmos proposes to make International Launch Service (ILS), subsidiary of the Khrunichev Center in the US, the operator of launch services of Sunkar. ILS has been occupied with marketing of launch services of Proton rockets on foreign markets for a long time. Recently, the company started promotion of new rockets of Angara family.

Documents of Roscosmos say that flight tests of Sunkar should start in 2024. It is planned to conduct commercial operation of Sunkar in 2025. After beginning of commercial operation Roscosmos will propose Kazakhstan to stop operation of rockets with toxic fuel. These are Proton-M and Proton-light modification that use heptyl as fuel.

A source close to Kazcosmos (aerospace committee of the Ministry for Investments and Development of Kazakhstan) explains that the proposal transferred by Roscosmos was acceptable for the Kazakh party in general and only the matters related to equipment of the ground infrastructure of Baikonur for operation of the new rocket system remained not finally clarified yet.

The source explained:

– Because investments in the ground part are expected from Kazakhstan, material aspect of the matter is being studied accurately now and we are occupied with calculations. Along with this, we like everything on the level of an idea.

It is presumed that development of the rocket proper will become contribution of the Russian party into creation of the rocket system. Financing of the work is outlined by the federal space program for 2016-2025 (FKP): in 2018 it is planned to start experimental and designing program Fenix with a budget of 30 billion rubles.

According to documentation of Roscosmos, Sunkar rocket will differ from Zenit mostly by the second stage. Instead of RD-120 engine produced by Dnepropetrovsk-based Yuzhmashzavod and mounted on the second stage of Zenit, Russian designers proposed use of RD-124a engines used in the third stage of Soyuz 2.16 rocket. The overall launch weight of the rocket grows by 46 tons in comparison to Zenit. The main reason of such growth is significant increase of the fuel reserve for the first stage from 320 to 398 tons. According to idea of designers, growth of the fuel reserve and proposed increase of the power of the engine of the first stage by 10% will allow creation of a rocket more powerful than Zenit: Sunkar will be able to deliver up to 17 tons of payload to a low near-Earth orbit (Zenit-3SL delivered up to 13.7 tons to a low near-Earth orbit from Baikonur).

Representatives of Roscosmos say that project of Sunkar rocket is being currently worked out with the Kazakh partners and emphasize that the project has to develop hi-tech cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis.

 

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