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.
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
|Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation||Plesetsk||10|
|Russian Aerospace Forces||Plesetsk||1|
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
|Europe’s Spaceport||French Guiana||1|
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 Type||Details||Number of Satellites|
|Communications||34 OneWeb, 1 GEO comsat, 4 others||39|
|Technology demonstration – communications||10 CubeSats||11|
|Earth observation||4 CubeSats||5|
|Navigation||3 GLONASS, 2 CubeSats||5|
|Technology demonstration||3 CubeSats demonstrated multiple technologies||3|
|Progress ISS resupply||Carried 10 CubeSats as secondary payloads||3|
|Soyuz ISS crew||Included NASA astronaut Frank Rubio||2|
|Amateur radio||2 CubeSats||2|
|Defense||Exact function(s) unknown||2|
|Electromagnetic radiation research||2 CubeSats||2|
|Electronic signal collection||2|
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).
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
|Feb. 15, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress MS-19||ISS resupply||None|
|March 18, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Soyuz MS-21||ISS crew||Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov|
|March 30, 2022||—||Soyuz MS-19||ISS crew return||Anton Shkoplerov, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei|
|June 1, 2022||—||Progress MS-18||Resupply ship departure (launched Oct. 28, 2021)||None|
|June 3, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress MS-20||ISS resupply||None|
|Sept. 21, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Soyuz MS-22||ISS crew||Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, Frank Rubio|
|Sept. 29, 2022||—||Soyuz MS-21||ISS crew return||Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov|
|Oct. 26, 2022||Soyuz-2.1a||Progress MS-21||ISS resupply||None|
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.
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.