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RLA-120 -

Credit: Mark Wade. 4,088 bytes. 49 x 480 pixels.

Family: Energia. Country: USSR. Status: Design 1974.

Glushko, new head of NPO Energia, briefed his new launch vehicle family to the VPK Military Industrial Commission on 13 August 1974. These met the requirements of the Ministry of Defence as described in 1973 in Plan Poisk and would replace the failed N1 and all existing launch vehicles. As required by the Ministry of Defence, they used only non-toxic, inexpensive Lox/Kerosene propellants; the various launch vehicles were modular, and used common engines and rocket bodies. The basic engine would be a four-chamber design with a vacuum thrust of 1,200,000 kgf. The modules had a gross mass of about 800 tonnes kgf each, were six metres in diameter and about thirty metres long.

The new design family was called RLA - Rocket Flight Apparatus.

The RLA-120 was the smallest member, with a gross lift-off mass 980 tonnes, single module with a 150 tonne kg upper stage, payload 30 tonnes. Designed to boost reconnaissance satellites and modules of the POS Permanent Orbital Station into a sun synchronous orbit. First flight was to be in 1979, with POS modules to be assembled in orbit in the 1980-1981 period.

The RLA cluster method would allow the modules to be built in the factory and thoroughly tested individually without risking the entire launch vehicle. Total cost of the development program was put at 12.5 billion roubles.

The members of the VPK met the proposal with considerable scepticism. The final decision was that the plan had to be reworked. Brezhnev, Keldysh, and Ustinov would insist in the reformulation that the Lox/LH2 technology and capabilities of the US space shuttle had to be duplicated. The end result would be smaller Zenit and Energia launch vehicles and Buran space shuttle, with which neither the military or the Soviet engineering community was happy.


LEO Payload: 30,000 kg. to: 500 km Orbit. at: 97.0 degrees. Liftoff Thrust: 1,100,000 kgf. Total Mass: 980,000 kg. Core Diameter: 6.0 m. Total Length: 45.0 m. Development Cost $: 12,500.00 million. in 1974 average dollars.

RLA-120 Chronology

1974 Aug 13 -


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