Russia launches new Angara A5 rocket on second test flight in nighttime liftoff

Six years after acing its first test flight, Russia's monster Angara A5 heavy-lift rocket has done it again.

The rocket launched flawlessly Monday (Dec. 14) from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 12:50 a.m. EST (0550 GMT or 8:50 a.m. Moscow time), according to Russian space agency Roscosmos. Roscosmos also confirmed the Breeze-M upper stage and a mock spacecraft successfully separated from the launch vehicle 12 minutes and 28 seconds after the liftoff.

This new test flight comes almost exactly six years after the Angara A5, on its first test flight, successfully placed a two-ton dummy payload into geosynchronous orbit in December 2014.

Video: Russia launches heavy-lift Angara A5 rocket on test flight
Meet Angara, Russia's next-generation rocket (photos) 

"Angara rockets do not use aggressive and toxic propellants, significantly increasing environmental safety both in the areas adjacent to the launch complex and in the drop zones," Roscosmos said in a statement. "Russia's Ministry of Defense and Roscosmos are the government customers of the Angara space rocket complex, with Khrunichev Center being the lead developer and manufacturer."

Once the rocket line is ready to go, Angara will allow Russia to launch geostationary-orbiting satellites from its own territory using environmentally friendly fuel. These satellites are launched now from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Proton rocket line, which uses toxic hydrazine fuel.

This second test flight was supposed to take place in 2016, but production and delivery issues with parts and subcontractors delayed the mission four extra years, according to The rocket was also supposed to take an operational payload in space, but it was decided to take another dummy payload aloft when the launch date became uncertain, the website added.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: