Russian state-owned commercial launch provider GK Launch Services is preparing to launch a unique Soyuz-2 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight.
The Soyuz-2 is manufactured by Russia’s Progress Rocket Space Centre and has flown over 100 successful missions since its maiden flight in 2004.
Traditionally, the Soyuz 2 is painted in grey with orange accents on the first and second stages. A March 20 launch of the vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying a cluster of 38 satellites will break with that tradition.
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of Vostok 1, the first human spaceflight in history, GK Launch Services have substituted the grey and orange for white and blue. According to a statement from the Russian launch provider, the new colour scheme was inspired by the Vostok LV prototype that carried Gagarin to space.
The blue and white colour scheme is expected to be utilized for all Soyuz-2 missions launched by GK Launch Services this year.
The first Soyuz-2 to sport the new paint job went vertical at Baikonur on March 17. The mission’s primary payload is the CAS500-1 Earth observation satellite for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. However, the flight will also carry an additional 37 payloads for customers from Russia, Japan, Italy, Germany, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Thailand and more.
The mission is slated to be launched at 06:07 UTC on March 20.