MOSCOW, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Russia's space defense force started tests of the newest heavy-class Angara A5 rocket, the force commander said Wednesday.
The tests were being conducted at Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia's northern Arkhangelsk region, Alexander Golovko told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during the latter's inspection visit.
"Preparations for the first launch have been going on in accordance with schedule, which is planned for the end of December," RIA Novosti news agency quoted Golovko as saying.
On July 9, Russia successfully test-launched the newest light-weight Angara rocket.
Angara A5 can be placed into orbit with a payload of 1.5 to 35 tons. The first manned mission using Angara is planned for 2018 from the newly-built Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region in the Far East.
Investment in the Angara project has exceeded 3 billion U.S. dollars over the last 20 years.