On the site of state purchases on April 4, information appeared that Roskosmos ordered the development of a sketch of a super-heavy missile (STR) worth 1.6 billion rubles. Later it became known that China could take part in the production of the Russian superheavy rocket. However, there are no concrete agreements on this subject so far.
On the one hand, additional financing (and not only) would allow the project to be implemented more quickly. But on the other hand - in China they will probably want to get the existing Russian missile technologies to use them in the future for their Changzheng-9 project. As a result, taking the Chinese into the project, the Russian space industry will grow itself a competitor.
What is known now?
The first reports that the Roskosmos wants to create a Russian superheavy rocket began to appear in August 2016, but since then there have been no progress in this matter. And only on February 2, 2018 it became known that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the construction of a special complex at the Vostochny launch site, which will be created solely for launching it.
Unfortunately, we do not know much about the rocket itself: the first stage of development is currently under way - the plan is to be completed by October 31, 2019. After that, the longest and most difficult stage will begin: experimental design and research. They will last as long as 8 years from 2020 to 2028. During the same period, the Vostochny space center will build all necessary infrastructure. Presumably in 10 years - in 2028 - the first flight tests will take place. As for the carrying capacity, it is planned that the STR will be able to take 90 tons of cargo to near-earth orbit, and 20 to the near-Earth orbit.
Of course, to create a superheavy rocket into space, there must be a certain "base". According to the director of the research analytical center of the United Missile and Space Corporation Dmitry Payson, we have it. He assures that the family of engines "RD-170/180/190 in terms of performance - the best in the world". Now they are used in the carrier rocket "Angara", except in various versions they are also delivered to the American market.
It should be understood that 90 tons of cargo in a near-earth orbit is not so much. Such a payload is enough for manned flights around the moon, however, to launch a cosmonaut into a satellite, the rocket's capacity is not enough. It is likely that moving step by step, we can come to the fact that the first Russians could "master" the lunar space. Let me remind you that a missile is needed to disembark people on the Moon, which takes out about 130 tons to a low Earth orbit.
The only active competitor of the STR at the moment is Falcon Heavy Ilona Mask. In early February, an American billionaire with eccentricity inherent in it launched into space the Falcon Heavy rocket, "immersing" in the last own electric vehicle Tesla Roadster and arranging from this grandiose Hollywood show with broadcast to the whole world.
Currently there are only two successfully implemented projects. The USA carried out the Moon program with the help of the launch vehicle "Saturn-5", launched into space 13 times in the period from 1967 to 1973. This carrier brought to Earth orbit 141 tons. To create superheavy carrier rockets tried and in the USSR. It is known about two projects: H-1 / H-1F (carrying capacity 100 tons), which was closed after four unsuccessful starts. But the launch vehicle "Energy" was successfully launched into space in 1987 and 1988, but later the project was closed.
In addition to Russia, superheavy launch vehicles are being developed in the US and China. And in the US we are talking about two projects at once, one of which is Space Launch System (SLS) - is being developed by NASA, and the other is BFR of the above-mentioned company SpaceX, owned by Ilona Mask. If, in the case of NASA, we are talking about sending a launch vehicle in 2019, Ilon Mask wants to launch a BFR with a cargo to Mars in 2022. And in 2024, according to the billionaire, the first manned flight to the "red planet" will take place. Undoubtedly, many are very skeptical towards the latter, however on April 10 in his Instagram Ilon Mask showed the hull module for BFR. Of course, with a parked nearby Tesla.
Strictly speaking, the creation of a superheavy rocket is also spoken in China. The first information about it appeared at the international economic congress in 2013. The project is called "Changzheng-9" and is being developed by the Chinese Academy of Carrier Technologies. "Changzhen-9" will be able to bring to near-earth orbit up to 133 tons of cargo. Neither the state of the project nor the planned date of flight is still unknown.
It is obvious that superheavy carrier rockets are needed not only to send cars into space. One of the ways to use such missiles is to study the cosmos. At least, the head of Roskosmos Igor Komarov says: "The task (missile) is set for her - studying the solar system, the planets of the solar system, the moon and near-moon space, the task of removing manned spacecraft and automatic spacecraft to near-earth orbit and solving other national economic problems ".
Existing "conventional" missiles can not send a person beyond the circumterrestrial orbit, they can only run probes. The manned missions are one of the goals of building superheavy vehicles.
Will Russia succeed in creating a superheavy missile on time? It is difficult to answer this question. Too much time has passed since the creation of the previous superheavy missile, knowledge is lost, experts, at best retired. On the other hand, the design and development tools have improved, new materials have appeared, there is the experience of creating a heavy carrier rocket "Anagara". After all, Ilon Mask was able to develop a heavy rocket almost from scratch. Perhaps Russia will be able to regain the spirit of sports competition in space exploration.