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Russia may launch light Soyuz carrier rocket by 2012

File image of a Soyuz being raised into position for launch.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 25, 2011
Russia will be ready to launch a light version of a Soyuz carrier rocket by 2012, commander of the Russian Space Forces Oleg Ostapenko said on Thursday.

The Soyuz 2-1V launch vehicle, also known as Soyuz 1, is a two-stage medium class carrier rocket developed by the Progress design bureau.

"We will be ready to carry out this launch at the end of 2011 or in the first quarter of 2012," Ostapenko said, adding that the rocket was ready for assembly at a Progress plant in Samara, the Volga Region.

The new rocket is a modernized version of a Soyuz-2.1B, with the booster rockets removed, and the first stage equipped with a legendary NK-33 rocket engine, which was developed in the 1970s to carry Soviet cosmonauts to the moon onboard a giant N1 rocket.

The second stage is the same as the Soyuz-2.1B.

The rocket is capable of putting a payload of up to 2.85 tons (6,300 lb) to an orbit at an altitude of 200 kilometers.

Launches could be carried out from upgraded launch pads at the Plesetsk Space Center in northwestern Russia and the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.

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