Russia Wants a Heavy Lift Booster It Has No Use For


If you think NASA sometimes has trouble explaining just what it wants to do with the Space Launch System before it is actually used for the “Journey to Mars,” consider this somewhat bizarre explanation of Russia’s planned Fenix launch vehicle. Billed as a backup to the Angara system for the same reason the USAF insists on assured access to space with two booster lines through the EELV program, Fenix is also being promoted as the first stage of a super heavy lift carrier rocket.

The sales pitch however, may need a little work.  Consider this excerpt from a TASS interview with Igor Komorov, head of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

“”[The project] will definitely not pay back,” he said. According to Komarov, “There will be no real consumers over the next 10 years” for this rocket. “There will be no commercial use (of the carrier rocket) much longer – for 15-20 [years], I think,” said the Roscosmos chief. He also said that the country’s Federal Space Program for 2016-2025 envisages no payloads requiring a super-heavy class rocket.”

If nothing else, one must at least respect the honesty.

The initial version of Fenix is described as a 9 ton to LEO single core booster, likely using liquefied natural gas as a propellant. The expected development cost is 30 billion rubles, or approximately $440 million.

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