First launch of Federation spacecraft may slip to 2024
The first uncrewed flight of Russia’s next-generation Federation spacecraft may be postponed from 2022 to 2024, according to latest remarks made by the general director of the spacecraft’s manufacturer.
Federation, being developed RKK Energia, is expected to replace Russia’s flagship Soyuz spacecraft. The next-generation vessel is designed to be capable of delivering up to four cosmonauts and cargo to the Moon as well as to space stations positioned in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
RKK Energia was expected to complete the construction of the first Federation spacecraft by 2021. The initial plan was to conduct the maiden flight of this spaceship, with no crew, in 2022. However, Sergey Romanov, the head of RKK Energia, recently said this timeline could not be met.
“At the moment, we are hammering out our proposals for Roscosmos on work that must be completed so that the spacecraft’s unmanned launch will be carried out in 2022,” Romanov said. “Otherwise, given the vehicle’s current state, it would only be possible to launch it from the spaceport in 2024. So, we need to try very hard to make it happen in 2022.”
Two years after Federation’s maiden launch, Roscosmos plans to conduct the first crewed flight of this spacecraft. Romanov said that in order to be ready to fly the first cosmonauts aboard Federation, it is essential to test eight experimental units and finish all manufacturing processes.
“The manned launch is impossible without experimental development,” Romanov said. “We cannot put people at risk.”
Federation is expected to measure some 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length and have a mass of approximately 14.4 metric tons. The spacecraft is being designed to operate autonomously for a period of up to 30 days with the possibility of staying attached to the International Space Station for up to a year.
The first launch of Federation is expected to be carried out using a medium-capacity Soyuz 5 rocket, which is also in development. The 160-foot (49-meter) tall booster is being designed to be capable of delivering up to 25 metric tons to LEO in its heaviest variant.
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