- It is planned that Amur will be launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, in the Amur region.
- Methane–oxygen engines are being developed for the first stages of promising launch vehicles.
- SpaceX is going to use a version of the Raptor engine running on liquefied gas on a number of its rockets.
Roscosmos announced on Monday that a contract for the development of the preliminary design of the reusable launch vehicle, Amur, has been signed. The contract is for $82.5 billion (70 billion Roubles). The first launch is scheduled for 2026. The carrier is expected to have a returnable first stage and a single-use second stage, both equipped with methane engines.
With the return stage, Amur will be able to put up to 10.5 tons of payload into low earth orbit, in a one-time version of 12.5 tons. Amur will receive a take-off weight of about 360 tons, its height will reach 55 m, the diameter will be 4.1 m.
It is planned that Amur will be launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, in the Amur region. The program for creating the carrier was approved at a meeting of the State Corporation’s Scientific and Technical Council, with the participation of Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin.
It should be noted that methane–oxygen engines are being developed for the first stages of promising launch vehicles, and plans to use liquefied natural gas as rocket fuel are a global trend.
SpaceX is going to use a version of the Raptor engine running on liquefied gas on a number of its rockets. SpaceX believes the first trip to Mars will be on a methane engines rocket.
Another methane–powered BE-4 engine is being developed by another private US company, Blue Origin, for use, in particular, on the Vulcan rocket from the United Launch Alliance.
Methane is attractive due to the low cost of the fuel, and its processing and use has been widely adopted by other industries, which makes it possible to use ready. There is no need to create additional infrastructure for methane.
In the case of Russia, the methane storage is already there, using a Gazprom facility near Vostonchny Cosmodrome. Interestingly, the new Gazprom facility pipeline is being built by China. This will make refueling the Amur even cheaper in the future.
According to the Roscosmos Exectuive Director Alexander Bloshenko, in an interview to TASS, “the total cost of creating a rocket from the signing of the contract for the sketch to the first launch in 2026 will not exceed 70 billion rubles.”
The first phase of the project will cost $22 million. At the stage of preliminary design, a detailed business plan for the Amur rocket program will be developed. Added Bloshenko:
“We will attract specialized companies-co-executors who will tell us under what conditions we achieve such a launch cost, and also show clear deadlines for the project to reach payback, taking into account the state of the launch services market.”
Moreover, the estimates of the branch research facilities suggest that parts in the rocket Amur will be at least two times less than in a series of similar missiles of class Soyuz-2. That is, two thousand parts in Amour vs 4.5 thousand parts in Soyuz.
“This is important from the point of view of reliability, and we would like our missile to be trouble-free, like a Kalashnikov assault rifle,” said Bloshenko.
In addition, according to the Executive Director:
“It is assumed that there is an afterburner mode for the first-stage engines, which will allow implementing the so-called hot backup scheme: if one of the engines fails, the rest will automatically increase their power to ensure the continuation of the flight.”
It is planned to place five methane-oxygen engines on the first stage of the rocket.
Amur can get the option of so-called hot backup, which will significantly increase the reliability of the carrier. It is planned to place five RD–0169a methane–oxygen engines on the first stage of the rocket, which are currently being developed at the Voronezh Chemical Automation Design Bureau. The nominal thrust of these engines is assumed to be at the level of 100 tons.
Roscosmos will not conduct 300–fold tests on Earth, but will use digital modeling methods. The first stage of the Amur will return to the landing sites, the calculation of the construction site of which is currently being conducted by ballistics, depending on the flight paths of the new rocket from the Vostochny cosmodrome.
The future is with methane for the new rockets.