Russia is hoping for liquefied natural gas to take off in a big way, with state space agency Roskosmos aiming to build and test an LNG-powered rocket.
The agency said its research institute in Samara will design an Amur-SPG, multi-use returnable booster to replace existing modifications of Russia's Soyuz-2 rockets.
Roskosmos expects the first flight tests to take place as early as 2026, with the rocket set to incorporate the latest technical innovations pioneered by South African entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets and spacecraft.
Similar to the SpaceX Raptor engine that has already been trialled, Roskosmos plans to use cryogenic temperature LNG and liquid oxygen in its Amur-SPG engines to increase power and safety.
Roskosmos added that, “for the first time in Russian space history”, the agency hopes not to go well over the pre-determined budget for the project.
One such previous costly project was the Vostochny space launch facility in the Amur region, which was intended to replace an old Soviet facility in Kazakhstan.
According to the Russian Investigative Committee in Moscow, some of the project's contractors stole more than 11 billion roubles ($143 million) between 2012 and 2018, prompting thousands of civil and criminal investigations intended to recover missing amounts.
Roskosmos will be hoping for a cleaner lift-off this time around.