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Rocket-space developments → ”Air Launch” airborne space-rocket complex
Air Launch airborne space-rocket complex

The unique airborne space-rocket complex is designed by leading aviation and space companies of Russia and Ukraine under order of the “Air Launch” corporation.

The complex is intended to deliver payloads into various near-earth orbits, including geostationarye.

A two-stage booster-equipped rocket burning liquid oxygen and kerosene is accommodated in a transportation-launch container aboard the AN-124-100VS carrier aircraft.

The 100-t launch vehicle is able to inject up-to-3900-kg spacecraft into low orbits, 1500-kg, into geotransfer orbit and 650-kg, into geastationary orbits.

A payload is located under the nose fairing. The total payload area is about 30 m3.

The AN-124-100VS carrier aircraft affords a nonstop flight to the launch region and return to the landing airdrome within 4500 km,that allows performing launches to various-inclination orbits from the regions specified.

The launch point and flight route are selected to ensure safe launch and LV separable elements drift trajectories.

Such engineering solutions allow injecting satellites into orbits of various altitudes and inclinations without construction of expensive ground launch facilities. In this case, when the rocket is ejected in the low-density atmosphere and due to an additional airplane velocity the rocket can inject a 30-40% more payload than when launched from a ground launcher.

Arrangement of the complex systems
Arrangement of the complex systems
  1. Carrier aircraft
  2. Launch vehicle
  3. Transportation-launch container
  4. Steam-gas generator to eject the rocket
  1. Sealing membrane
  2. Flight and prelaunch maintenance complex control equipment
  3. Onboard instrumentation complex equipment
The standard flight profile showing spacecraft injection into a geostationary orbit
The standard flight profile showing spacecraft injection into a geostationary orbit

The launch routes when the carrier aircraft takes off from the Biac Island.
The launch routes when the carrier aircraft takes off from the Biac Island.
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©Open Joint Stock Company “Academician V.P.Makeyev State Rocket Centre”, 2009