Russia’s 2022 Launch Total Reduced by Ruptured Relations with West Over Ukraine

The Soyuz MS-22 rocket is launched to the International Space Station with Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos onboard, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex, returning to Earth in March 2023. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Russia’s conducted 22 launches without any failures in 2022. Although that is a respectable number, it left a nation that once led the world in orbital flights a distant third behind the United States (87) and China (64) in a record year with 186 launches.

The total would have been higher if not for a rupture in relations with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The launches of six Soyuz boosters carrying more than 200 OneWeb broadband satellites were canceled. The European Space Agency (ESA) also canceled the launch of its ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover to the Red Planet aboard a Russian Proton booster.

A Soyuz-2.1v rocket is launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

Russian Launches
2022: 22-0
2021: 24-0-1

Launches were conducted by Roscosmos, Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation, Russian Aerospace Forces and Arianespace from four different spaceports in three countries.

Russian Launches, 2022

Company/AgencyLaunch SiteLaunches
Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian FederationPlesetsk10
RoscosmosBaikonur, Vostochny10
Russian Aerospace ForcesPlesetsk1
ArianespaceFrench Guiana1
Total22

Four different variants of the Soyuz rocket were used for 20 launches. The Angara 1.2 and Proton boosters flew one time apiece.

Thirteen launches were conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was second with seven launches, followed by Vostochny Cosmodrome and Europe’s Spaceport with one each.

Russian Launches by Spaceport, 2022

Launch SiteCountryLaunches
PlesetskRussia13
BaikonurKazakhstan7
VostochnyRussia1
Europe’s SpaceportFrench Guiana1
Total22
The ISS Progress 82 cargo craft blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazkakhstan beginning a two-day trip to the space station. (Credit: RSC/Energia)

Spacecraft Launched

Russia put 85 spacecraft into orbit in 2022. The figure includes 34 OneWeb satellites launched aboard a single Soyuz ST-B rocket before cooperation on launches with Europe ended. Another 17 spacecraft were launched on a rideshare mission by a Soyuz-2.1b booster.

Satellite TypeDetailsNumber of Satellites
Communications34 OneWeb, 1 GEO comsat, 4 others39
Technology demonstration – communications10 CubeSats11
Earth observation4 CubeSats5
Navigation3 GLONASS, 2 CubeSats5
Reconnaissance4
Technology demonstration3 CubeSats demonstrated multiple technologies3
Progress ISS resupplyCarried 10 CubeSats as secondary payloads3
Soyuz ISS crewIncluded NASA astronaut Frank Rubio2
Amateur radio2 CubeSats2
DefenseExact function(s) unknown2
Electromagnetic radiation research2 CubeSats2
Electronic signal collection2
Early warning1
Magnetospheric researchCubeSat1
Radiation researchCubeSat1
Satellite inspection1
Space farmingCubeSat1
Total85

Fifty of the 85 satellites launched were focused on communications. The figure included 11 technology demonstration satellites designed to test communications technologies. Ten of those spacecraft were CubeSats.

There were 26 CubeSats among the 85 payloads launched in 2022. Sixteen CubeSats were launched on the Soyuz-2.1b rideshare mission. The other 10 spacecraft were carried as secondary payloads during two of the three Progress resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

Pictured from left are the Soyuz MS-19 crew spacecraft and the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module with the Prichal docking module attached as the International Space Station orbited 266 miles above the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia. (Credits: NASA)

Space Station Flights

Russian continued to fulfill its obligations to the ISS program despite multiple threats by Rogozin to withdraw from it due to Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian International Space Station Launches & Departures, 2022

DateLaunch VehicleSpacecraftPurposeCrew
Feb. 15, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-19ISS resupplyNone
March 18, 2022Soyuz-2.1aSoyuz MS-21ISS crewOleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov
March 30, 2022Soyuz MS-19ISS crew returnAnton Shkoplerov, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei
June 1, 2022Progress MS-18Resupply ship departure (launched Oct. 28, 2021)None
June 3, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-20ISS resupplyNone
Sept. 21, 2022Soyuz-2.1aSoyuz MS-22ISS crewSergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, Frank Rubio
Sept. 29, 2022Soyuz MS-21ISS crew returnOleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov
Oct. 26, 2022Soyuz-2.1aProgress MS-21ISS resupplyNone

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov were launched to the space station aboard the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft on March 18. They joined a seven-member crew that included: Russian cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov; NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Mark Vande Hei; and ESA astronaut Matthias Mauer.

Dubrov, Shkaplerov and Vande Hei departed the space station aboard Soyuz MS-19 on March 30. Dubrov and Vande Hei had spent nearly a year — 355 days — on ISS while Shkaplerov had been there for 176 days. Dubrov and Vande Hei were to have returned to Earth in October 2021 after a six-month mission, but Roscosmos changed the schedule while they were in orbit to accommodate a special project.

That same month, Shkaplerov flew film director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild to the station where they filmed scenes for a motion picture named, “The Challenge.” Shkaplerov stayed aboard while Shipenko and Peresild returned to Earth with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky on Soyuz MS-18 after 12 days in space.

ISS prime crew: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, Commander Sergei Prokopyev and flight engineer Dmitry Petelin. (Credit: Roscosmos)

On Sept. 21, Roscosmos launched Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio aboard Soyuz MS-22 for a six-month stay at ISS. Artemyev, Matveev and Korsakov returned to Earth eight days later aboard Soyuz MS-21.

It was not clear as exactly how Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio will return home. Their Soyuz MS-22 sprung a leak in its coolant system, sending a spray of liquid into space. Roscosmos will make a determination in January whether the spacecraft can safety return the crew to Earth in March.

Russia could launch an empty Soyuz to the station for the crew to use. A SpaceX Crew Dragon could potentially carry three additional passengers in addition to its normal crew of four astronauts. The Crew Dragon currently docked at the space station does not have that capacity.