Early this morning, a GK Launch Services-operated Soyuz-2.1a launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome carrying 28 individual payloads. In addition to a pair of Russian Kanopus-B remote sensing satellites, 26 CubeSats for international customers hitched a ride.
The Soyuz-2.1a launched from Vostochny Cosmodrome’s Site 1S launchpad at 02:07 UTC (05:07 Moskow time) this morning. Approximately 60 minutes after liftoff, the first of the Kanopus-B satellites (Kanopus-B №5) was deployed successfully from the rocket’s Fregat upper stage. The second (Kanopus-B №6) was deployed 6 minutes later. Following a second coast period of around 80 minutes, 12 of the secondary payloads were deployed. The final 14 secondary payloads were then deployed after an additional 80-minute coast period.
The pair of Kanopus-B remote sensing satellites were launched on behalf of Russia’s Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief. They join an existing constellation of three Kanopus-B satellites launched between 2012 and 2018. The Kanopus-B constellation will be used for monitoring man-made and natural emergencies, mapping, and observing agriculture, water and coastal resources.
The 26 secondary payloads were launched on behalf of commercial customers from the US, Japan, Germany, Spain and South Africa. It included a flock of 8 Lemur-2 satellites for Spire Global Inc. and a flock of 8 Dove satellites for Planet Labs Inc. (formally known as Cosmogia, Inc.).
This morning’s launch was the 19th and last aboard a Russian launch vehicle for 2018. Although this is on par with the country’s launch cadence over the last two years, it is well behind the 34 and 38 orbital missions launched by the United States and China respectively.
Featured image credit: Roscosmos (via Twitter)