Early this morning, three satellites were launched aboard a Rokot launch vehicle for the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The three-stage Rokot launch vehicle lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 02:27 UTC (05:27 local). A little over two hours later, the three satellites separated from the vehicle’s Britz-KM upper stage. Following the launch, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the three military satellites had been deployed and are operating nominally under their own power.
This morning’s launch is likely one of the last aboard the ageing Rokot. The vehicle uses Ukranian control-systems and due to trade sanctions, the country will cease supplying Russia with the critical component. Initially, one final Rokot vehicle was expected to be launched sometime next year. However, recent reports have indicated that this morning’s launch may very well have been the vehicle’s last.
Russia has announced plans to produce a redesigned Russian-made update of the vehicle, the Rokot-2. Although reports have indicated the new vehicle could be launched for the first time in 2021, budget constraints will likely see the project shelved.