Mashinostroyeniya, Moscow, developed the original RS-18 and is now
converting it into a 26.7 m (87.6 ft) space rocket called Strela,
weighing in with a takeoff weight of 104 metric tons (229 kblm). The Strela is a converted
intercontinental ballistic RS-18 missile (SS-19 Stiletto by NATO
classification). Of Russia's 160 nuclear warhead-bearing RS-18s,
55 must be decommissioned by 2007 under the START 2 treaty. The
RS-18 has logged 146 launches over the past 27 years, with
143 of them "a complete success". NPO
Mashinostroyeniya's conversion of the RS-18 into the Strela was
mostly limited to reprogramming the rocket's software. The
Rockot is a competing conversion of the
RS-18 being performed by a joint venture between German/US DaimlerChrysler
and Krunichev State Research and Production Center of Russia.
Strela can carry a
payload of up to 1,700 kg (3750 lbm) into low Earth orbit. NPO
Mashinostroyeniya is offering the Strela with a base price for
launch of US$10.5 million. NPO
Mashinostroyeniya expects it will take an average of 18 months, from the
time of signing a launch contract, to convert a regular RS-18 into a Strela,
integrate the payload and launch it.
is included on the official list of rockets to be used by Russian
federal government agencies, including the Russian Space Agency (RAKA).
That could lead to Russian government orders for up to a
half-dozen Strela launches annually. In addition, Strela
hopes to win contracts to launch up to 4 non-Russian payloads each year. With
production of AKO Polyot, Omsk, Kosmos-3M rockets halted
in 1995, Russian agencies have few choices, other than
converted RS-18s and RSD-10Ms, like Strela, Start and Rockot.
Strela will be
launched from Svobodny, Russia's newest spaceport, a converted
facility that used to serve as the base for a military ballistic
missile unit. No details have been provided, but the first
launch is planned for 2000.
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(51.8°N Latitude, 128.4°E)