MOSCOW, July 1 The debut of Russia's first new
space rocket since the Soviet era will have to be put off for
weeks, not days, a senior official said on Tuesday, an
embarrassing admission for the country's once-pioneering space
The launch of the Angara-1.2PP rocket was aborted seconds
before it was scheduled to blast off from Russia's northern
Plesetsk cosmodrome on Friday, watched by President Vladimir
Putin via live video link from the Kremlin.
"Today the rocket launch has been taken off the launchpad
and sent to the technical complex," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry
Rogozin was quoted as saying by state news agency Itar-Tass.
"Not days but weeks will be needed to return the rocket to
the launchpad," he said, during a visit to the construction site
of Russia's new space port in its far east.
A problem in the fuel pumping system is to blame, the
rocket's engine builder NPO Energomash said on Tuesday.
"An emergency shutdown occurred 79 seconds before the start
of the launch," it said on its website. "The reason ... was a
fall in the pressure of the oxidizer tank."
More than two decades in the works, the new generation of
rockets are seen as a test of Russia's ability to revive a space
industry after years of crimped budgets and a brain drain in the
The rocket, entirely designed and built within post-Soviet
Russia's borders, is a centrepiece of Putin's industry reform
plan and his move to consolidate the space programme on Russian
soil, breaking dependence on other ex-Soviet republics.
A potential commercial rival to France's Arianespace and
California-based SpaceX rockets, a heavier-lift version of the
Angara due to be tested later this year is slated to replace
Russia's workhorse Proton rocket, which has suffered an
embarrassing litany of costly botched launches.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel)