Russia carried out the second launch of its new heavy-class Angara rocket — the first developed since the world-historic fall of the Soviet Union — nearly six years after the vehicle's maiden flight, according to a tweet from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
Russia staged its second 'successful' launch of a new rocket
Roscosmos — the Russian Space Agency — announced the successful launch of its next-gen Angara-A5 rocket on Monday, which lifted a mock payload from Plesetsk in northern Russia at 7:55 AM EST.
Twelve minutes and 28 seconds into its mission, "the orbital block consisting of the Breeze-M upper stage and the spacecraft's cargo mockup separated from the third stage of the carrier," said Roscosmos in a statement, Phys.org reports.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos welcomed the news on his Twitter account, where he posted a picture of the rocket and wrote: "She flies, damn it!"
Putin says new rocket to lessen Russia's dependence on other nations
This heavy-class Angara rocket has only launched once before — in December 2014 — with a lighter-class type of the rocket tested in July of that year.
Angara rockets — named after a Siberian river flowing out of Lake Baikal — represent the first of a new family of launchers slated for construction after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The new rocket class is designed to replace the Proton rockets of the defunct nation — which date back to the 1960s, and have seen several embarrassing failures in recent years.
Vladimir Putin — the Russian president — has hopes the new launchers will revitalize Russia's space industry and lessen the country's reliance on other former Soviet countries.
Russian space program riddled with setbacks since 1991
Surprisingly, officials observed the heavy-class Angara rocket is more eco-friendly than earlier models — since it uses oxygen and kerosene for fuel, instead of the colossally toxic heptyl.
The Russian space program is world-renowned for sending the first man into space in 1961, in addition to launching the first satellite into orbit four years earlier.
However, since the total collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, the country has suffered numerous corruption scandals, in addition to several other setbacks, and has lost pricey spacecraft and satellites in recent years. All to say it's interesting to see the United States' old space race rival step into the era of next-gen rockets.