The maiden launch of Russia's new Angara carrier rocket could be postponed for at least one year due to shortage of funds from the Defense Ministry, the top Russian space official said Wednesday.
The Angara rocket, currently under development by the Khrunichev center, is designed to put heavy payloads into orbit. The launch facilities were expected to be finished by 2010, and the first launch had been originally scheduled for 2011.
"There is a serious delay in the construction of launch facilities [for Angara] due to the shortage of financing from the Defense Ministry. We are doing everything we can on our part," said Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.
Perminov said that the ministry has not halted financing completely, but significantly reduced it, resulting in the delay to construction this year.
The new line of Angara rockets will complement, and eventually replace, the existing line of Rockot and Proton launch vehicles. It will be available in a range of configurations capable of lifting between two and 24.5 metric tons into low-earth orbit, and its creators say it will have a low environment impact.
The Angara is intended mainly for launch from the Plesetsk space center to reduce Moscow's dependence on Kazakhstan's Baikonur, the main launch facility for the current generation of Russian rockets.
The rockets will be used for military and civilian purposes, specifically to put into orbit satellites as part of the Federal Space Program, as well as joint international space projects.
The Khrunichev center recently asked the government to allocate additional 10 billion rubles (about $290 mln) over the next three years to finish the development of the Angara rocket.
Perminov said on Wednesday that the development of the rocket itself was going according to schedule.
MOSCOW, November 18 (RIA Novosti)