Russia is once again considering a project to use RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to launch satellites into space, RIA Novosti reports.
“The rocket and space sector has returned to consideration of a project to convert decommissioned Topol ICBMs in order to use them in the space program – to create light carrier rockets based on them,” a source in the military space sector told the news agency.
The Russian Defense Ministry has begun replacing Topols with the more modern Yars missiles. Specialists have suggested modifying the old rockets to use them for space launches. There are plans to retain the option of launching from mobile platforms, which will make it possible to choose from a wide range of orbital degrees for launches.
According to open sources, Russia’s Strategic Missile Troops may have as many as 70 Topol missiles.
On May 15, news came out that the Defense Ministry has reduced its planned Topol launches for 2018-2019 from seven launches to three. Over the next few years, only isolated launches of RS-12M missiles will be carried out in order to train Strategic Missile Troops personnel and to confirm the stability of the characteristics of missiles which have been in use for a long period.
The RT-2PM Topol strategic missile system with a solid fuel three-stage 15Zh58 rocket was adopted into the armament in 1988. The ICBM has a starting mass of 45 tons and can carry a 1-ton warhead up to 11,000 kilometers. The standard warhead for the 15Zh58 is a 550 kiloton nuclear warhead.