Production of new Russian heavy rocket able to lift for GTO almost 5.4 tons of payload is delayed for three months and it is hard to predict how it will affect to launch date scheduled for end of 2016.
According to TASS news agency and its source, there is delay in production process of Angara-A5. Second prototype, which was scheduled with launch in the end of 2016, is manufactured in Omsk, in Polyot Production Association facility which belongs to Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center placed in Moscow. If delay will be confirmed officially it will be second delay – rocket should be ready in the end of 2015 to make launch in 2016 possible. Delays are caused by problems with cooperating factories which are not able to keep the schedule with supply of necessary components, lack instruments for testing and general production setup in Omsk factory. It is worth to remind that Angara will be delivered from Omsk to Moscow for final tests and assembling payload (which will be communication satellite Angosat-1 contracted for Angola) and next it will be send to Plesetsk for final launch preparation. TASS is quoting their source:
“The central and side units for the second Angara-A5 carrier rocket were to be made and shipped from Omsk to Moscow in March. According to the current plans, the manufacture and testing of the units should be completed in May, so, their delivery to the main enterprise is expected no earlier than in June,”
It means that final launch preparation will be possible not earlier then in September or October, assuming that there will be no further delays or problems. It leaves only two months for pre-launch preparation what is very little in case of prototype rocket – Soyuz rocket was delivered to Vostochny in October 2015 and launch was performed on April 28, 2016, even after assembling satellites under fairing Soyuz spent almost one month waiting for launch. It seems not much probable that prototype of the rocket which was launched only one time before will not cause any problems and launch will be performed in 2016.
History of Angara rocket family starts in 1992 just after collapse of USSR and great changes inside Russian space industry. Baikonur which was main cosmodrome became part of Kazakhstan and Russia was forced to lend their space center. In 1991 Russia signed agreement with Kazakhstan, which was limited to twenty years with annual cost to Russia at $115 million. This caused two facts: starting discussion of necessity of creating new cosmodrome in Russia and creating new rocket which could be launched from Russia territory and manufactured only in Russian facilities (important part of Russian space industry was placed on Ukraine). Probably also the fact that political situation inside newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States was complicated and not stable, Russian authorities considered as necessary to possess own cosmodrome and own launch vehicle for military purposes, without counting on other countries. After signing contract in 1994 with Khrunichev, Angara in its first phase was basing on RD-170 engines. In the 1997 KBKhA Khrunichev decided about changing engines for new RD-191 along with abandoning Hydrogen fuel in favor of LOX and RP-1; also Khrunichev engineers decided about implementing modular construction to reduce cost of developing next versions of Angara. All changes announced in 1997 were leading to ultimate goal: replacing Dnepr, Tsyklon, and Rokot rockets with Angara-A5 which could reach same orbits from new launch pad in Plesetsk cosmodrome. On 27 June, 2014, first launch attempt was performed but due the not officially confirmed issues with hydraulic and pneumatic systems launch was scrubbed. Next attempt was performed on July 9, 2016, and then Angara-1.2 Pervy Polyot (First Flight) was launched from Plesetsk cosmodrome to suborbital flight. Second flight of the Angara was originally scheduled for end of the 2015 but it was postponed to the end of the 2016.
On picture above: various Angara versions, models with wings are reusable versions of Angara with possibility of horizontal landing of the first stage after launch.