Resuming Launches of START-1 Carrier Rockets Under Consideration

Over the next year, Russia will be considering the return to launching Start-1 carrier rockets based on the Topol intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) reported TASS news agency on Monday.

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Chief Designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT) Yuri Solomonov told the news agency that a decision on the matter of resuming the launches of Start-1 carrier rockets re-converted from Topol ICBMs is expected in the next twelve months.

According to Solomonov, the decision depends on two programmes for creating two clusters of small-size satellites, for which Start-1 rockets are convenient launch vehicles.

The Start-1 is a light-class solid-propellant carrier rocket based on the Topol ICBM. With a lift-off weight of 47 tonnes, it can deliver a payload of over 500 kg to a low Earth orbit. In 1993-2006, Russia conducted seven Start rocket launches from the spaceports of Plesetsk and Svobodny (currently Vostochny).

The Start-1 launch vehicle derives its name from the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) between the United States and the Soviet Union. The START I treaty called for both sides to limit their nuclear arsenals to 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers. This led to a lot of surplus ICBMs on both sides, including the Soviet Topol. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia took over responsibility for executing the treaty. The Russian government decided to dispose of some of their ICBMs by using them as launch vehicles, which was an allowed method of disposal under the treaty.

Modification of the ICBMs into launch vehicles was carried out by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, which also designed the Topol missile.

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