Russian company S7 says it will launch in three years


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The Russian airline company S7 that now owns Sea Launch said today that it will launch a new rocket in three years.

The first rocket the company S7 Space is working on at the moment may take place in three years from now, the company’s chief, Sergey Sopov, told TASS in an interview, adding that the launch would be used for flight-testing a cargo spacecraft.

S7 Space is working on its own rocket on the basis of a sketch design of the Soyuz-5 launch vehicle being created by the space rocket corporation Energia.

“When we launch our new rocket for the first time, approximately in three years from now, we also plan to flight-test a cargo spacecraft. Roscosmos might order six space launches from us, thus keeping busy both its own enterprises and S7 Space,” Sopov said.

S7 originally was reworking the Sea Launch rocket so that it was built entirely in Russia, and had said it would resume flights by 2019 with twelve scheduled through 2022. Now it appears they have been hired by Roscosmos to build an entirely new launch vehicle and cargo freighter, in imitation of the U.S. approach to have private companies build its space rockets and craft.

Regardless, this is not encouraging. It indicates more delays, and it also suggests that S7 is not really in control of its future but has to take orders from Roscosmos.

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  • Edward

    From the article: “The first stage will be reusable.

    I see this as a good sign. S7 is learning from its competition. With luck, they have a better quality control program in place than Roscosmos does (quality has to be designed into the product). Reusability may be worth the extra wait.

    Robert wrote: “Regardless, this is not encouraging. It indicates more delays, and it also suggests that S7 is not really in control of its future but has to take orders from Roscosmos.

    I see this a bit differently. Although the article says: “Roscosmos has invited S7 Space to participate in creating the Soyuz-5 rocket,” S7 responded: “We agreed but we will be making our version of the rocket on our own on the basis of the Soyuz-5 project to suit our own tasks.” This seems to me like some amount of independence.

    However, it is not complete independence, because Roscosmos seems to have approval authority over S7’s design. On the third hand (Niven and Pournell’s “Gripping Hand”), this approval may come from the possibility that Roscosmos orders six launches of the S7 design, and the situation could be similar to NASA approvals for the SpaceX and Boeing designs for their manned Dragon and Starliner spacecraft.

    Given Roscosmos’ quality control problems, much may depend upon the amount of independence that S7 has.

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