MOSCOW - Russia has conducted a third launch of its new heavy-class Angara rocket, the first developed after the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago this month. 

Space agency Roscosmos announced late Monday that the next-generation Angara-A5 rocket had been launched with a mock payload from Plesetsk in northern Russia. It was the third launch of the new rocket after its maiden voyage in 2014.

“Roscosmos congratulates the military-space forces and the entire Russian space industry,” the agency said in a statement, calling the launch “successful”. Agency head Dmitry Rogozin welcomed the news on Telegram, writing: “Come on, baby!”

The defence ministry added: “All prelaunch operations and the launch of the Angara-A5 rocket took place properly.” The last launch of the heavy-class Angara rocket took place in December 2020. Angara rockets -- named after a Siberian river flowing out of Lake Baikal -- are the first new family of launchers to be built after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

They are designed to replace the Proton rockets that date back to the 1960s and have suffered a series of failures in recent years. 

President Vladimir Putin hopes the new launchers will revive Russia’s space industry and reduce reliance on other former Soviet countries. 

Officials say the heavy-class Angara rocket is more environmentally friendly than its predecessors because it is fuelled by oxygen and kerosene rather than hugely toxic heptyl. The Russian space programme sent the first man into space in 1961 and launched the first satellite four years earlier. 

But since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it has been plagued by corruption scandals and a series of other setbacks, losing expensive spacecraft and satellites in recent years.