Russia has launched its largest rocket since the Soviet Union fell apart 30 years ago, demonstrating the country’s militarization of space.
Angara A-5 is a space rocket that weighs 761 tons and is 210 feet tall. On Tuesday, December 28, it launched with a simulated payload from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.
As officials increased their warnings about Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin celebrated the launch. The rocket can launch military satellites into orbit, where analysts believe future conflicts will be won or lost, according to experts.
Russia’s space programme launched the first satellite in 1957 and sent the first man into space in 1961. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 it has been plagued by corruption and technical setbacks and has lagged behind US and China in Space exploration.
It was the third launch of the new rocket after its maiden voyage in 2014.
‘Roscosmos congratulates the military-space forces and the entire Russian space industry,’ the agency said in a statement, calling the launch ‘successful’.
Agency head Dmitry Rogozin welcomed the news on Telegram, writing: ‘Come on, baby!’
President Vladimir Putin hopes the new launchers will revive Russia’s space industry.
Angara rockets – named after a Siberian river flowing out of Lake Baikal – are the first new family of launchers to be built after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
They are designed to replace the Proton rockets that date back to the 1960s and have suffered a series of failures in recent years.