Soyuz-2-1a Launch Vehicle Takes Progress into Orbit for the First Time

Soyuz-2-1a Launch Vehicle Takes Progress into Orbit for the First Time

RD-107A/RD-108A production rocket engines by JSC Kuznetsov (a subsidiary of the United Engine Corporation controlled by Rostec) have performed splendidly  during the launch of the Soyuz-2-1a space launch vehicle that took Progress M-25M cargo spaceship into low-earth orbit.

Preparations for the launch and launch itself went without incident. A Progress cargo spaceship took off from Launch Pad 31 of Baikonur Space Port at 10:09 a.m. Moscow time, bound for the ISS on top of a Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle, whereas previously Progress was only taken into space by Soyuz-U-PVB launch vehicles. Kuznetsov rocket engines in the first and second stages of the launch vehicle performed without incident. 

A total of four Soyuz-2-1a launches carrying Progress cargo ships are planned as the launch test series. The following two launches are scheduled for 2015, and another one for 2016. After this, unmanned cargo and manned spaceship launches are planned to use Soyuz-2-1a rockets.

The spaceship is expected to dock into the International Space Station at 4:09 p.m. Moscow time. It will deliver more than 2.5 metric tons of cargo to the ISS, including fuel for orbit adjustments, scientific and operating equipment, water, air, personal parcels and food for the cosmonauts and astronauts, as well as other consumables.

According to the mission profile, the spent rocket stages should fall in Karaganda Region, Kazakhstan (1st Stage); Eastern Kazakhstan Region, Kazakhstan, Altai Region and Altai Republic, Russia (2nd Stage, stabilizer fins, the nose cone). The 3rd Stage of the launch vehicle is expected to stay in orbit. The launch vehicle should take the spaceship into orbit with an apogee of 240 +/-5 kilometers and a perigee of 193 +/-2 kilometers. The spaceship should eventually rise to the height of the ISS orbit at approximately 400 kilometers above the surface using its own engine.

The ISS currently has a mission crew of six: ISS-41 Expedition Commander Maxim Surayev (Russia), ISS 40/41 Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman (US) and Alexander Gerst (ESA), ISS 41/42 Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyayev (Russia), Elena Serova (Russia) and ISS 41  Flight Engineer/ISS 42 Expedition Commander Barry Wilmore (US).

RD-107A/RD-108A engines are used in first and second stages of all Soyuz space launch vehicles. They are the most reliable in the world. The engine developers (NPO Energomash named after Academician V.P. Glushko and JSC Kuznetsov experts) are continuously working to improve engine reliability and upgrade their performance. Kuznetsov is also implementing a program of rocket manufacturing upgrades and retooling that envisages a transition of all space launches to uniform use of RD-107A/RD-108A engines.

Space launches powered by production engines take place at three spaceports: Baikonur, Plesetsk, Kourou (in French Guiana). Another launch pad for Samara-made Soyuz launch vehicles will be constructed at Vostochny Spaceport.

The next Soyuz-2-1a launch is scheduled for October 30 at Plesetsk Spaceport. Four more Soyuz launches are planned before the end of this year.