Russia Launches EKS 5 Early Warning Satellite

PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia, 25 November 2021 (Ministry of Defence PR) — Launched today at 4:9 a.m. (Moscow time) from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region, the Soyuz-2.1B medium-class launch vehicle successfully put the spacecraft into orbit at the set time in the interests of the Russian Defence Ministry.

All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Soyuz-2.1B space rocket (SR) took place in normal mode. The means of the ground-based automated control complex for spacecraft of the Russian orbital group controlled the launch and flight of the SR.

The ground-based means of the space forces of the Aerospace Forces took control of the spacecraft launched in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defence. Stable telemetry communication has been established and maintained with the device, its onboard systems are functioning normally.

After taking control of the spacecraft, the serial number Cosmos-2552 was assigned.

In total, more than 40 ground-based measuring devices and more than 70 combat crews of the 15th army of the Aerospace Forces of special purpose were involved in ensuring the launch of the spacecraft of the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Successful Launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome

PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — The Aerospace Forces successfully launched the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. The launch of the carrier rocket and the insertion of the Pion-NKS 1 naval intelligence satellite into the calculated orbit took place in the normal mode. This is reported by the Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

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Launch 2020: Russian Missions Improved in Quality, Declined in Numbers

Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For Russia, 2020 was a mixed year in terms of launch. Once the world’s leader in sending payloads into space, the nation finished a distant third behind the United States and China with only 17 orbital flights. That figure was eight below the 25 launches in 2019, and Russia’s lowest number of the 21st century. The U.S. and China finished with 44 and 39 launch attempts, respectively.

On the bright side, 2020 was the second year in a row in which Russia did not experience a launch failure. That streak came after more a decade during which the Russian launch industry was plagued with multiple fmishaps.

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SpaceX Delays Transporter-2 Launch at Least 3 Days

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off on Transporter-1 mission. (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SpaceX has announced that it is delaying the launch of its Transporter-2 rideshare mission that had been scheduled for Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to allow the launch team to make some additional checks. Reports say the new launch date will be no earlier than Monday, June 28.

Transporter-2 will deploy about 90 satellites into a sun synchronous orbit (SSO). The flight follows on the heels of the Transporter-1 mission in January, which carried a record 143 satellites. Those satellites were also placed in SSO.

Meanwhile, Russia has scheduled three launches to take place in the week ahead.

Monday, June 25

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Pion-NKS 1 electronic intelligence-gathering satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site:
 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

Tuesday, June 29

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Progress 78P International Space Station resupply ship
Launch Time: 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia

Thursday, July 1

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payloads: 36 OneWeb broadband satellites
Launch Time: 8:48 a.m. EDT (1248 GMT)
Launch Site:
 Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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Fun with Figures: The Rise and Fall of the Commercial Proton Booster

Proton on launch pad (Credit: ILS)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Russia recently marked the 25th anniversary of the entry of the Proton rocket into the international commercial marketplace. On April 8, 1996, a Proton-K booster with a DM3 upper stage launched the Astra 1F geosynchronous communications satellite built by U.S.-based Hughes for Luxembourg’s SES from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Quarterly Launch Report: US in the Lead Thanks to SpaceX

A Falcon 9 lifts off with 60 Starlink satellites on March 11, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 27 orbital launch attempts with 26 successes and one failure during the first quarter of 2021. The United States accounted for nearly half the total with 13 launches behind nine flights by SpaceX.

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Russia’s Angara Rocket Prepares for Mass Production

The central core of an Angara launcher. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The new production facilities of the Khrunichev Center (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) will make it possible to produce up to ten missiles of the Angara family per year. In two cities of Russia, large-scale preparations are underway for the start of the serial production of missiles of this family. More details about the strategy and principles of organizing production, delimiting areas of responsibility between sites, the near and medium-term prospects of the heavy and light version of Angara.

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2020 a Busy Year for Suborbital Launches

New Shepard landing on the pad in West Texas on October 13, 2020, with the NASA Lunar Landing Sensor Demo onboard. (Credit: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Suborbital launch used to be a sleepy field that rarely attracted much public attention. Let’s face it, atmospheric research and student experiments are not front-page news. Sounding rockets don’t have the majesty and power of a Falcon 9 or Atlas V.

In recent years, exciting new entrants in the field and widespread streaming of launches have made suborbital flights exciting. Last year saw important suborbital flight tests by SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Skyrora that garnered worldwide interest.

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Upcoming Launches: Falcon 9, Starship, Soyuz and SpaceShipTwo

Falcon 9 lifts off with 60 Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Tuesday, February 2

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 2.1b
Payload: Lotus S-1 signal intelligence satellite
Launch Time: 3:45 a.m. EST (2045 UTC)
Launch Site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome

NET Tuesday, February 2

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Starship SN9
Mission: Flight Test
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Boca Chica, Texas

Flight date depends upon completion of review and the issuing of a launch license by Federal Aviation Administration.

Wednesday, February 3

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites
Launch Time: 5:57 a.m. EST (1057 UTC)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Thursday, February 4

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites
Launch Time: 1:19 a.m. EST (0619 UTC)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

NET Saturday, February 13

Launch Vehicle: VSS Unity/VMS Eve
Payload: Two pilots, microgravity experiments
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Spaceport America, New Mexico

Repeat of a flight test aborted on Dec. 12 due the computer losing contact with the engine. Launch opportunities extend through February. First of three additional tests intended to complete SpaceShipTwo’s initial flight test program.

Russia Achieves Clean Launch Record for Second Year in Row

Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The outgoing year 2020 has become a difficult test for the entire world marked by the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many world economic players have encountered objective difficulties in the implementation of previously outlined plans.

Unfortunately, Roscosmos also had to correct a number of plans, including those related to launch activities. Nevertheless, Roscosmos management put the quality of production and the safety of personnel working at the Russian rocket and space industry enterprises and cosmodromes at the forefront.

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Dmitry Rogozin Wishes Everyone a Happy New Year, Looks Toward Busy 2021

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Dmitry Rogozin, Roscosmos Director General, wishes a Happy New Year!

“We see off this year and welcome 2021 with high hopes. We hope that the Vostochny Cosmodrome will start operating at full capacity,” Rogozin said.

In 2021, Roscosmos expects to ensure the new Nauka orbital module launch to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and send the Luna-25 automatic interplanetary station from the Vostochny Cosmodrome to Earth’s natural satellite.

According to the head of Roscosmos, 2020 was a difficult year for the Russian rocket and space industry due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in the world and Russia in particular.

“Nevertheless, Russia’s rocket and space industry worked uninterrupted. We ensured all our planned launches, including crewed launches from Baikonur,” Rogozin noted.

Next year, apart from Luna-25, Roscosmos plans to carry out about six launches of the British OneWeb communications satellites from Vostochny. In 2020, only one rocket launch took place from this cosmodrome – on December 18, 36 spacecraft of the OneWeb satellite company went into orbit.

In total, in 2020, Roscosmos conducted 17 launches of space rockets from the Baikonur, Plesetsk, Vostochny and Guiana spaceports.

Russia Launches Angara-A5 Rocket on Second Flight Test

Angara-A5 rocket launched on a flight test from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Dec. 14, 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Today, December 14, 2020, at 05:50 UTC, the Angara-A5 heavy-class carrier rocket was successfully launched from Russia’s Ministry of Defence State Test Space Center (Plesetsk cosmodrome) as part of flight design tests of the Angara rocket space complex. The launch vehicle was acquired by ground means of the VKS Titov Main Test Space Center.

Prelaunch preparation and launch of the carrier rocket were conducted by combat crews of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces and enterprises of Roscosmos. At the estimated time, 12 minutes 28 seconds after the liftoff, the Angara-A5.2L space rocket orbital block including the Briz-M upper stage and a spacecraft weight mockup separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle. Further injection of the orbital block into the target orbit is carried out with the help of the Briz-M propulsion system.

Universal rocket modules URM-1 and URM-2 serve as the basis for the Angara family carrier rocket development. Various class Angara launch vehicles are built using several universal rocket modules. One URM-1 is used as part of the Angara-1.2 light-class launch vehicles. The maximum number of URM-1 can be a three-stage heavy-class Angara-A5 launch vehicle.

Angara rockets do not use aggressive and toxic propellants significantly increasing environmental safety both in the areas adjacent to the launch complex and in the drop zones. Russia’s Ministry of Defense and Roscosmos are the government customers of the Angara space rocket complex, with Khrunichev Center being the lead developer and manufacturer.

Soyuz-2 Launches Three Gonets-M Communications Satellites

Soyuz-2 rocket launches three Gonets communications satellites on Dec. 3, 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

PLESETSK COSMODROME, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — On Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 01:14 UTC, a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle with a block of spacecraft of the Gonets-M low-orbit commercial satellite communication system and the ERA-1 nanoscale service platform developed for the Russian Defence Ministry, designed for testing advanced micro-devices and orientation and astrogation microsystems, was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region by the Aerospace Forces (VKS) combat crew.

All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Soyuz-2 rocket went nominally. The ground-based automated control system of VKS monitored the launch and flight of the carrier rocket. Two minutes after launch, the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle was tracked by ground-based means from the VKS Titov Main Test Space Center. At the estimated time, the Fregat upper stage routinely separated from the third stage of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle and two hours later successfully put the spacecraft into the calculated orbit.

After being launched into orbit, the Russian Defence Ministry spacecraft received the serial number Kosmos-2548, and the Gonets-M satellites were handed over under the customer control, who will control them during the orbital flight. Titov Main Test Space Center specialists conducted operations to remove the Fregat upper stage from orbit.

Officers of the VKS Space Control Center entered information about the launched spacecraft into the Main Catalog of Space Objects of the Russian space control system, and began analyzing and processing information about new space objects for acceptance by ground-based means of the VKS Main Centre for Reconnaissance of Situation in Space.

Russian Space Facilities Director Fired in Continued Shakeup Related to Vostochny

Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov (Credit: Roscomsos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The previously reprimanded head of the Russian company that oversees Russia’s ground-based space infrastructure has been fired in a continuing shakeup related to schedule delays and alleged corruption at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

The Board of Directors of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities (TsENKI) voted to relieve General Director Andrei Okhlopkov from his post beginning on Nov. 27. A month earlier, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin had reprimanded him during a visit to Vostochmy.

Okhlopkov had been the head of TsENKI since June 2018. The board replaced him with Ruslan Mukhamedzhanov, a 20-year TsENKI employee who most recently headed up the company’s Barmin Research Institute of Launch Complexes.

TsENKI is responsible for the creation of ground space infrastructure and manages Russian cosmodromes. The company, which is part of Roscosmos, employs more than 12,000 people.

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