Russia has launched a reconnaissance satellite for the country’s Ministry of Defence aboard a “light” variant of a Soyuz-2.
The Soyuz-2.1v was launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on September 9 at 19:59 UTC carrying the Razbeg 1 reconnaissance satellite. In a statement following the launch, Russia’s Ministry of Defence confirmed that the flight had been successful.
The launch of the Razbeg 1 reconnaissance satellite had initially been scheduled for mid-July. However, multiple launch attempts were abandoned without explanation.
Razbeg 1 is a small 250-kilogram satellite that is reportedly inspired by the United States SkySat Earth Observation satellites launched in 2013 and 2014. The satellite is equipped with an optical camera developed by OAO Peleng, a Belarusian optical instruments manufacturer. It’s capable of a maximum ground resolution of 0.9 meters.
Once operational, the Razbeg 1 is expected to assume the duties of EMKA, a 150-kilogram precursor that was launched in March 2018.
The two-stage Soyuz-2.1v is a light variant of the Soyuz-2. It utilises a unique first stage that does away with the iconic four liquid-fuel boosters. In place of the four-chamber RD-107, the rocket’s first stage utilises an NK-33 rocket engine, an engine that was designed in the 1960s for use aboard the ill-fated Soviet N1 Moon rocket. A four-nozzled RD-0110R provides the stage with thrust vector control. The rocket’s second stage is identical to the third stage of the Soyuz-2.1b.
The Soyuz-2.1v was first launched in December 2013 and has flown a total of seven missions, suffering just one partial failure. Prior to yesterday’s flight, the Soyuz-2.1v light launch vehicle had not been utilised since November 2019.