Russia’s main space-related goal is crystal clear – it wants to launch an innovative, domestically-made reusable rocket by 2026 as per a report by TASS. Two years ago, the Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) officially announced its plans for developing a two-stage rocket, meaning that the first stage will be able to return to Earth and be reused multiple times. Called Amur, after the region where the Vostochny Cosmodrome (its future launch site) is located, this rocket will boast a series of innovative technologies, used in the country’s aerospace industry for the first time.

ROSCOSMOS literature on the configuration of Russia's new reusable launch vehicle
Experts were quick to compare the future Amur with SpaceX’s Falcon-9, pointing out the similarities, including the stabilizing fins on the rocket’s first stage, as Space reported. However, Amur is smaller than the Falcon 9, and not as powerful. Compared to the SpaceX’s 230-foot (70 meters) tall rocket, powered by nine engines, with a 25-ton payload, the Amur has only 180 feet (55 meters), five engines, and an 11.6-ton payload. Still, this is more than what the current Soyuz-2 rockets are able to carry to space.

On the other hand, one of the major differences between the Russian and the American rocket is that Amur will be powered by methane. But reusability is perhaps the most important common feature.

The Amur project has recently hit a milestone regarding this, as ROSTEC announced that the components for the ignition system of the future RD-0177 engine have been successfully tested, demonstrating the system’s reusability. These components (an ignition unit and a spark plug) were designed for increased structural strength, according to the manufacturer, and these recent tests proved that they can handle multiple use.

The ignition components developed by Technodinamika Holding were engaged eight times, as part of the fire tests, where the operation of an engine was simulated. Although there is still a long way to go until the methane-powered rocket will be ready for launch, the successful fire test is an important step on the way for the reusable two-stage Amur.

Currently, reusable stages are used in the American SpaceX Falcon launch vehicles and New Shepard rockets of Amazon's Blue Origin. Reusable rockets are also being developed in India, China and Europe.