Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Soyuz 5 (rocket)

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Manufacturer  JSC SRC Progress
Height  46.5 m (153 ft)
Stages  2
Country of origin  Russia
Diameter  3.6 m (12 ft)
Mass  270,000 kg (600,000 lb)

The Soyuz-5 (Russian: Союз-5) is a launch family Russian rocket proposed by JSC SRC Progress, the manufacturer and custodian of the Soyuz family design, within the Project Feniks (Russian: Феникс, 'Fenix'). While all previous iterations of the Soyuz family had its roots firmly set on the R-7 ICBM legacy, the Soyuz-5 is a complete new design from the ground up. It is based on a new propellant: LOX and liquid methane, uses a new tank structure, new propulsion, does away with the famous R-7 tulip and has thrust vector control in the main engine rather than using vernier engines. It is also a scalable family with three versions covering the medium to heavy payload ranges.


The project is considered as fundamental to assure access to space to Russia, since it is transitioning exclusively to the Angara family, and the Soyuz-5 would add redundancy in case of an Angara stand down. The smallest version, the Soyuz-5.1 is a 270 tonnes rocket and is proposed as a replacement of the Soyuz-2 rocket, and has an expected payload to LEO of 9 tonnes. It will use a single RD-0164 on the first stage, and a RD-0169 on the second. The first engineering design is expected to be finalized by 2016, and the first flight expected for 2022. The use of just two stages for the base version, and the simplification of subsystems means a more reliable and cheaper launcher. In fact, the Soyuz-5.1 is expected to be cheaper than the Soyuz-2.


During an interview with the kazakhstani magazine Space Research and Technologies during 2013, Mr. Kirilin, CEO of TSKB Progress, explained the conception of the project. When the Rus-M project was cancelled, TSKB Progress started work on a methane fueled launch vehicle under the Roscosmos Magistral research program. This work was self funded by the company, and looked to replace the Soyuz vehicle and keep the vehicle design capabilities within the company.

The venerable vehicle would be some 60 years old design by 2020 and it could not remain competitive with the new vehicles, like the Falcon 9. It was defined by Progress CEO, Mr. Kirilin, as technologically and operationally hopelessly outdated. It has conical sections, where each panel is unique, it uses six engines with 24 nozzles, most task include a lot of manual operations, it even requires five different fluids, kerosene, liquid oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, gaseous nitrogen and gaseous helium. Looking forward, the price of RG-1 fuel was going up, since it could only be distilled from a single oil field, that is expected to be depleted soon.

The Soyuz-5 would use the same diameter for all sections of the rocket, 3.6 m (12 ft), use just liquid methane and liquid oxygen, have a single engine with a single nozzle per stage, and automate most tasks. But it could use the basic Soyuz pads and installations after some modifications. Liquid methane is cheap, Russia has ample reserves and it has a huge installed base. It also has some important thermal and polymerizing properties that paves the way for reusable rockets. The rocket was expected to use the KBKhA RD-0164 engine in the core stages, and a methane version of the also KBKhA's RD-0124 in the upper stage.

During an August, 2015 interview with Ria Novosti, Mr. Kirilin stated that preliminary design was expected in 2015 or 2016, that they will first develop the light Soyuz-5.1 version, that they expected to fly the first prototype in 2022 and that the propulsion would be the RD-0164 for the cores and the RD-0169 for the upper stage.


The Soyuz-5 is designed to be a scalable family. As such it has three proposed versions:

  • Soyuz-5.1: This would be the basic version designed to replace the Soyuz-2.1a/b rockets. It uses a first and a second stage. It is expected to have a payload to a 200 km (110 nmi) circular LEO orbit of 9 t (8.9 long tons; 9.9 short tons).
  • Soyuz-5.2: It is designed as a crew carrier vehicle and uses a central core and two equal cores on the side as boosters. It does not have an air lighted seconds stage which eliminates air start risk. It is expected to have a payload to LEO of 16 t (16 long tons; 18 short tons).
  • Soyuz-5.3: Heaviest version. A Soyuz-5.2 with the Soyuz-5.1 upper stage, it has the maximum capability. It is expected to have a payload to LEO of 25 t (25 long tons; 28 short tons).
  • References

    Soyuz-5 (rocket) Wikipedia

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