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Russia to End Rockot Launches

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 7, 2017
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Rockot launch vehicle

The end of the line is coming soon for Russia’s Rockot (Rokot) launch vehicle.

The converted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has only two more missions on its manifest before the program ends. In the months ahead, it will launch Sentinel 5P and Sentinel 3B Earth observation satellites for ESA and the European Commission.

The Sentinel 5P launch is set for June. Tass reports the Sentinel 3B flight will likely occur late this year or early 2018.

Rockot is being phased out in favor of the newer Angara-1.2 and Soyuz-2.1v boosters, which are capable of launching lighter payloads.

Rockot is a converted SS-19 ICBM built by Khrunichev and operated by Eurockot Launch Services. Flights are conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.

The three-stage booster is capable of lifting 1,950 kg (4,299 lb) in low Earth orbit (LEO) and 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lb) into sun synchronous orbit (SSO).

Rockot has launched 30 times, with 27 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: ISC Kosmotras)

The retirement of Rockot ends Russia’s second program that used  in converted Soviet-era ICBMs as satellite launchers. In 2015, the country ended a joint program with Ukraine to convert SS-18 missiles into Denpr launch vehicles.

Dnepr was capable of lifting 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) to LEO and 2,300 kg (5,071 lb) to SSO.

The booster was launched 22 times, with 21 successes and one failure. The last flight was on March 25, 2015.

Dnepr launches were conducted out of Yasny in Russia and Baikonur in Kazakhstan.





3 responses to “Russia to End Rockot Launches”

  1. Kapitalist says:

    I suppose this ends just because the storage of dismantled ICBM has been exhausted, right? Now it is US’ turn to decide if they want to reuse their dismantled ICBM’s for space flight.

    (One might think that “Rokot” means rocket. But it seems to translate to “Kaboom!” I don’t know if that is comforting marketing for payload customers).

    • Douglas Messier says:

      No. I believe there are more SS-18 and SS-19 missiles that could be converted. There are newer boosters they can use like Angara 1.2 and Soyuz-2.1v. Dnepr was a joint Russian-Ukrainian program, which is one of the reasons it was ended.

      Orbital ATK uses retired ICBMs in its Minotaur boosters. Those are still flying.

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