Energia Launch Vehicle

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Energia Launch Vehicle System was the successor to the N-1 Moon Rocket. The Energia Launcher was used to launch Polyus and Buran. It was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan (former Soviet Union).

Energia has been abandooned, but may return to service if a market is found or partners!

Buran Launch

Specifications:

Energia was 60 m high and 18 m in diameter. It consisted of central core and four strap-on boosters. The core was 58.1 high and 7.7m diameter. It used 4 RD-0120 Rocket Engines. The propellants were Liquid Hydogen and Liquid Oxygen. The strap-on boosters were 38.3 high and 3.9 in diameter. Each booster used a single four-chamber RD-170 Kerosene/Liquid Oxygen Rocket Engine.

Payloads:

  • 100 tons to Low Earth Orbit
  • 18 tons to geostationary orbit
  • 32 tons to the lunar transfer
  • 28 tons to Venus and Mars

The Energia utilized a high degree of automation for launching and monitoring Energia’s performance.

Buran Transporter with Energia Rocket

Launch History

The Energia Launch Vehicle was first launched on May 15, 1987. The payload was Polyus – “Skif-DM”.

The second launch of Energia carried the Buran Space Shuttle Orbiter with no crew. It was launched on November 15. The weather conditions were not optimal that day – gusts of wind reached 20 m/s that was beyond the specified limits. However, launch was carried with success and the Buran Space Shuttle was landed automatically.

Energia Launch Vehicle

Future Potential

Between 1987 to 1993, NPO Energia performed future use studies of the Energia Launch System.

Possible uses included:

Launching large telescopes, removal of space debris from low Earth orbits, launching Earth’s radioactive wastes beyond the Solar System, development of a solar sail for interplanetary missions, illumination of polar towns, recovery of the Earth’s ozone layer, development of large space reflectors to relay energy, lunar exploration and more.

In 1992, the Russian Space Agency decided to terminate the Energia/Buran Program due to Russia’s economic difficulties. At that stage, the second Orbiter had been assembled and assembly of the third Orbiter with improved performance was under completion.

Buran and Energia Launch Vehicle

Books:

Russia in Space:

Energia Launch Vehicle Links


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