Russia Is Working On A Reusable Single-Stage Rocket ‘Korona’ That Would Have A Useful Life Of 100 Flights

A Russian rocket going into space.
NASA/Joel Kowsky / Getty Images

Russia is reportedly developing a reusable, single-stage carrier rocket for interplanetary missions. According to its designers, this rocket, dubbed Korona, will actually be an environmentally friendly space vehicle capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

The work on this project started in the 1990s, according to Sputnik News. The aim was to develop a reusable vehicle that would be the Soviet answer to the American space shuttle. Russian scientists worked on this project for some years before it was abandoned due to the lack of funds.

Recently, some reports surfaced revealing that Russia’s Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau is resuming the work on this reusable vehicle.

On Tuesday, Sergei Molchanov, deputy general designer of Makeyev Design Bureau, provided new information about this vehicle. According to Sputnik News, Molchaonv stated that Korona will have a useful life of approximately 100 flights, and it will have no detachable intermediate stages. Korona will be made of carbon fiber, with the outer layer made of ceramic tiles to protect the vehicle from the intense heat generated during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. It will feature a modular combustion chamber to burn a low-emission fuel, most likely a mixture of kerosene and liquefied oxygen.

The Rocket Center of Makeyev Design Bureau in Miass, Chelyabinsk, has also confirmed that this space vehicle will be designed to carry up to 12 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit or seven tons into space. It will also be designed to carry cosmonauts to space stations moving in the Earth’s orbit.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is currently the world’s most capable partially reusable rocket. SpaceX designed this two-stage rocket to reduce the cost of space missions while ensuring safe and reliable transport of cargo and satellites into orbit. In 2012, Falcon 9 created history by delivering Dragon capsule into its designated orbit, thus making SpaceX the world’s first private company to visit the International space station (ISS). In the past five years, SpaceX has used this rocket several times to deliver cargo to the ISS.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has also revealed his plans to make humanity an “interplanetary species.” Musk has promised to send humans to Mars by 2024.