Trillion "Baby": Why Russia needs a super-heavy Yenisei rocket

Let's talk about one of the most controversial projects in the history of Russian rocket science. Moreover, more recently, they gave her a name - "Yenisei".




“Heavy” and “Super Heavy”

Modern Russia, perhaps, does not have a more ambitious space project than creating an extra-heavy launch vehicle, which is considered as an instrument of conquering Mars and the Moon. First you need to understand what such missiles are. In the modern world, the lion's share of government and commercial orders is carried out by medium and heavy class launch vehicles, such as Falcon-9 or Arian-5 (these are all “troubles”). They can launch cargoes weighing more than 20 tons into a low reference orbit. It's a lot. Do not forget that there is a tendency to create very light mini and nano-satellites. For their launch, you can generally use an ultralight carrier such as the cheap New Zealand Electron.

In current realities, super-heavy missiles such as Falcon Heavy and the promising SLS (Space Launch System) are needed to solve a narrow range of tasks associated with a very large load. For example, the Falcon Heavy portfolio of orders comprises five starts, plus several hypothetical launches in the future. Not much. Frankly speaking, Falcon Heavy will not be able to conquer the market, because there is no market as such. For a large country that has money for space, in general, it is enough to have carriers of three classes: light, medium and heavy. In turn, the superheavy class carrier most closely resembles the Rolls-Royce: a status and very expensive toy. Which in most cases is not needed.


Nevertheless, there is one direction where it will not be possible to do without superheavy media. This is deep space exploration. To launch a large spacecraft to Mars or even the Moon, the capabilities of a conventional rocket will no longer be enough. It will be necessary, at a minimum, to “link” several stages of a heavy-class carrier, having received, in fact, a new superheavy rocket. Complicated and expensive.

Race against the wind

In the current realities of extremely unstable energy prices, it could be assumed that Russia would "slaughter" the project of an extra-heavy rocket. But that did not happen. At the beginning of December last year, it became known that the choice of the technical appearance of the Russian superheavy rocket of the future started. And in January, the current head of Roscosmos - Dmitry Rogozin - said that the name of the future rocket was chosen. Now all the prospects for the development of Russia's far-off cosmic boundaries will be associated with the name "Yenisei". “Today, a detailed schedule has been signed for the creation of an extra-heavy class launch vehicle (Yenisei class) by 2028. Developers - RSC Energia named after S.P. Koroleva (Moscow region), RCC "Progress" (Samara), Center named after M.V. Khrunicheva (Moscow) - in terms of creating the third stage, ”Rogozin said on his Twitter. The Yenisei, of course, is a large and powerful river, but the association is strange, especially after the story of the sunken satellites. However, these are all the nuances. Much more important are the characteristics of the future product.


Here is what is known today. The project is expected to use a three-stage scheme. The capacity of the launch vehicle will be 103 tons. Six side blocks, which will be equipped with RD-171MV engines, act as the first stage. They will be modified versions from the first stage of the Irtysh rocket (aka Soyuz-5). That is, the previously expressed assumptions were confirmed that the “super-heavy” will be a kind of bunch of promising “Unions”. About how Falcon Heavy became, in fact, several Falcon 9, which are combined into one.

The second stage is now seen as one unit with an RD-171MV or RD-180 engine. Finally, according to the data presented earlier, they intend to take the third stage from Angara-A5V. On the upper stage, it is possible to use two RD-0146 engines or two RD-0150 engines.

Recall that the RD-171MV is a modernized version of the RD-170 engine, the development of which started back in the 70s. RD-171 is used for Zenit launch vehicles. It is important to note that by the time of flight tests of the rocket, scheduled for 2028, the RD-180 and RD-171MV engines are likely to become obsolete. Recall that they all use a kerosene / liquid oxygen fuel pair, which looked great ten years ago. But now there has been a tendency to move to a potentially more successful pair - liquid methane / liquid oxygen. Recall that it is her that Elon Musk wants to use on his new Raptor engine, with which SpaceX associates its main aspirations. Some other rocket scientists also took this path, and in Russia they recognized that it was the most correct one.

Another problem is the price. In January of this year, it became known that Roscosmos set a task to meet a trillion rubles when developing and creating the first Yenisei model. Needless to say, the total amount can increase and well, if not at times. Superheavy rockets are generally a very expensive pleasure.

"Planned" economy

It is appropriate to recall here that, according to still old media reports, the Federal Space Program (FKP) for 2016–2025 has greatly “lost weight”. Several years ago, such programs as “Creation of a lunar take-off and landing complex”, “Creation of a lunar orbital station”, “Creation of a lunar base”, “Creation of a lunar spacesuit”, “Creation of a robotic support system on the Moon” were deleted from it. Roughly speaking, this is a kind of Pearl Harbor for Russia's lunar ambitions. And the landing of the first Russian astronauts, at least, was postponed indefinitely.

The situation with the Yenisei carrier is frankly phantasmagoric. Russian engineers are working on a fantastically expensive, incredibly complex and very risky project, which will be out of date by the time of its birth. And this despite the fact that he, as such, is not too necessary.

We can consider a conditionally optimistic scenario, but it will only give rise to new uncomfortable questions. Even if the rocket appears by 2030, it will most likely have to invent new missions for it. In the current conditions, when Roskosmos has to literally survive, this approach seems, to put it mildly, illogical.


The development of an Earth satellite together with the partners of Russia would have looked much more correct. For example, within the framework of the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway - a promising orbital station around the Moon, where the existing Angara-A5 could be useful. To implement these plans, however, it is necessary to maintain good relations with Western colleagues, and especially with the Americans, who will play the role of the “first violin” in this project. There is a risk, but it is much better than completely unrealizable illusions. For which, moreover, you have to pay dearly. In the literal sense of the word.
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Photos used: https://army-news.ru/
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  1. Alexey Zhidkov Offline
    Alexey Zhidkov (Alexey Zhidkov) 17 January 2019 09: 05
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    LUNAR PROGRAM OF ROSKOSMOS

    Why does Russia need
    Mastering the moon?
    What would a church be built there!
    The goal is clear for the whole country ...

    AM LIQUIDS.
  2. Redfox3k Offline
    Redfox3k (Vladislav) 17 January 2019 09: 30
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    The development of a satellite of the Earth together with partners ... and especially with the Americans, who will play the role of the "first violin" in this project, would have looked much more correct.

    for the sake of the last paragraph, an article was written. Abroad will help us! Sometimes it’s better to chew than write similar articles, all-cater.
  3. Galar Offline
    Galar (Timur) 17 January 2019 11: 24
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    to hell with these Rogozins, instead of real rockets, they are busy choosing a name. A heavy class rocket of 100 tons has already been created back in the USSR - this is Energy. What else is there to invent which Yenisei?
    Some games and a scam for suckers.
    1. gorbunov.vladisl (Vlad Dudnik) 17 January 2019 15: 43
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      damn these Rogozins ...

      Rogozin has been heading Roscosmos since May 24, 2018. That is, less than a year. With the same success, you can make the same claims.
      1. Galar Offline
        Galar (Timur) 17 January 2019 16: 05
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        Quote: gorbunov.vladisl
        damn these Rogozins ...

        Rogozin has been heading Roscosmos since May 24, 2018. That is, less than a year. With the same success, you can make the same claims.

        and how many years do you need to understand that it’s not worth the fence? Five, ten? Some kind of dumb your answer ...
        1. gorbunov.vladisl (Vlad Dudnik) 19 January 2019 06: 47
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          and how many years do you need to understand that it’s not worth the fence? Five, ten? Some kind of dumb your answer ...

          First you decide which "garden" does not suit you? And then with the word "Rogozin" you have an extreme degree of excitement begins. And when you ask for concretization, then in response to inarticulate bleating. crying
  4. Former optimist Offline
    Former optimist (Former optimist) 17 January 2019 13: 48
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    There is also the Lena River. This is the name of the next cut, and then to Kolyma, on the coast. And to Rogozin in the back of the chicken from the ballet, which with a Komsomol-accounting enthusiasm would tell him about education and poverty.
  5. Vkd dvk Offline
    Vkd dvk (Victor) 17 January 2019 20: 28
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    Maintain good relations with Western partners, mainly with Americans ....

    A wonderful way of betraying the interests of Russia. Agree in advance to the second (and it turns out, to fifth roles, at the level of theft of unprecedented proportions in the industry and leapfrog in management) leaving everything to chance, to consciously nail yourself to the pillory.
    NOT. Only Beria’s measures to Fulfill their own plans. Only Stalinist measures for bribery facts. Only the second industrialization of the whole country. By any measures.
  6. Umper Offline
    Umper (Victor) 17 January 2019 21: 37
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    Quote: wkd dvk
    Maintain good relations with Western partners, mainly with the Americans ....

    A wonderful way of betraying the interests of Russia. Agree in advance to the second (and it turns out, to fifth roles, at the level of theft of unprecedented proportions in the industry and leapfrog in management) leaving everything to chance, to consciously nail yourself to the pillory.
    NOT. Only Beria’s measures to Fulfill their own plans. Only Stalinist measures for bribery facts. Only the second industrialization of the whole country. By any measures.

    Somehow, Stalin did not hesitate to use Western technology and was far from the first in this. And also invite Ford and other specialists to build factories in the Union.
  7. sergei.krasnoyarsk (Sergey Krasnoyarsk) 18 January 2019 10: 03
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    With ami? Tell us about the Russian aircraft industry in cooperation with ami. And about the Russian liberals with shouts: "we will buy everything."
  8. Bobo Offline
    Bobo (BoBot Robot - Free Thinking Machine) 25 January 2019 00: 05
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    On the Yenisei, we will fly to Mars, put a flag, declare the territory of the Russian Federation!
  9. Victor Virnik Offline
    Victor Virnik (Victor Virnik) 6 June 2020 17: 17
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    ... you only need to build your own ships, to master new technologies and competencies. The feeling that we are very late or behind someone should be suppressed. A large ship is going for a long time, but sailing far. It is alarming, however, that the inspirational immediate goal, such as, for example, the landing of a man on the moon in the Apollo program, is not voiced. What do we want? And yet - too many parallel projects. What is the point of duplicating super-heavy and spraying finance?