Russia Works on LNG-Fuelled Rocket Designs
Russia is developing its own LNG-powered space rocket launch vehicles to match models in China, the EU and the US, a scientist at Russian state space agency Roskosmos said on March 18.
Russia faces "tough competition" from foreign rocket launch vehicles that are powered by LNG and liquid oxygen, Aleksandr Bloshenko, director for advanced programmes and science at Roskosmos, said at the LNG Congress Russia in Moscow on March 18. These include the Terran-1, Vulcan, New Glenn and BFR/Starship models in the US, the Arlane-62 and Arlane Next models in the EU and the CZ-8, ZQ-2 and ZQ-2b/c models in China.
Roskosmos is developing its own Amur-SPG, partially-reusable, LNG-fuelled launch vehicle to compete. Designs began in 2020, with test flights due to start in 2026. LNG's adoption as a rocket fuel is a worldwide trend, Bloshenko said.
"LNG and hydrogen are both promising rocket fuels," he said. "They are the future of aerospace."
LNG is attractive as a rocket fuel because of its affordability, cleanliness, high propulsive burn and cooling power, Bloshenko said. The Amur-SPG is designed for commercial rather than military applications, he said, and therefore its cost rather than its payload capacity is the main focus.
Roskosmos is working with state-owned gas company Gazprom on the fuel aspects of the project. The Amur-SPG will be launched from the Vostochny space facility in the Amur region, near to Gazprom's Amur gas processing plant.
Roscosmos has budgeted the project at RUB70bn ($880mn), for development through to launch. The rocket's launch cost varies between $22mn and $27mn.