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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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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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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The Return of Satan: Roscosmos Eyes SS-18 Missiles as Satellite Launchers Again

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin said the state space corporation is once again eyeing the use of converted SS-18 Satan (aka, R-36M2 Voyevoda) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for small satellite launches, TASS reports.

“The matter is now being discussed, first of all with the Defense Ministry, because they are the number one here,” Rogozin said on Saturday, answering to a question about the possibility of converting Voyevoda ICBMs.

He said it would be “wrong to simply scrap” this “beautiful, legendary ICBM.”

“We could easily refit it for projects related to putting small spacecraft to civilian orbits. The matter is being discussed. This tactics should be applied to all combat missiles when they are being removed from combat duty, including Sarmat,” he said.

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