Russia successfully launched the Meteor-M No. 2-2 weather satellite aboard a Soyuz 2.1b rocket earlier this morning. In addition to the primary payload, the rocket also carried 32 smaller satellites for commercial customers around the world.
The Soyuz rocket carrying the weather satellite lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome at 05:41 UTC this morning. Approximately 100 minutes later, the rocket’s Fregat upper stage deployed the weather satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of around 830 kilometres. Following a successful deployment, GK Launch Services, Russia’s state-owned launch services provider confirmed a signal from the satellite had been acquired and its solar panels deployed.
Over the next two to three hours, the Fregat upper stage will place the additional 32 satellites into their designated orbits.
The Meteor-M No. 2-2 is the second of the next-generation Meteor-M series of Russian weather satellites to be launched. The first was launched on November 27, 2017, and was ultimately lost due to a programming error. A few weeks after the launch, Russian officials admitted that the rocket had been programmed as if it was lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome instead of the new Vostochny Cosmodrome.
An additional four Meteor-M satellites are expected to be launch by 2024. The satellites will assist researchers with monitoring atmospheric and sea-surface temperatures, sea ice conditions, humidity, radiation, snow cover and clouds.