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.

China, Russia Launch Communications & Environmental Satellites

China and Russia conducted launches on Sunday and Monday, placing five primary payloads and a group of rideshare satellites into orbit.

A Chinese Long March 4B booster lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center early Sunday morning. The three-stage rocket carried the Huanjing 2A and 2B environmental monitoring satellites into orbit.

Chinese media said the satellites will collect data for environmental protection, water conservancy, natural resources monitoring, agriculture and forestry. They will replace the Huanjing 1A and 1B environmental satellites launched in 2008.

On Monday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched three Gonets M military communications satellites from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The rocket also included a group of international rideshare payloads.

Five Launches Scheduled Over Three Days

Falcon 9 payload shroud. (Credit: SpaceX)

Things are about to get very busy, with four American launches and a Russian one planned over a three-day period beginning on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Here’s the schedule as it stands now. Schedule subject to change without notice. Wagering strictly under penalty of law.

Sunday, September 27

Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Heavy
Payload: NROL-44 reconnaissance satellite
Time: 12:10 a.m. EDT (1610 GMT)
Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 60 Starlink satellite broadband spacecraft
Time: 10:43 a.m. EDT (1443 GMT)
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Monday, September 28

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payloads: 3 Gonets M communications satellites plus rideshares
Time: 7:20 a.m. EDT (1120 GMT)
Location:
Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

Tuesday, September 29

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: GPS 3 SV04 navigation satellite
Time: 9:55 p.m. (0155 GMT)
Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Launch Vehicle: Antares
Payload: NG-14 — Cygnus International Space Station resupply ship
Time: 10:27 p.m. EDT (0227 GMT on Sept. 30)
Location:
Wallops Island, Va.
Webcast: www.nasa.gov