Press Release

Foreign Satellites Successfully Launched From Vostochny Cosmodrome

By SpaceRef Editor
December 27, 2018
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On December 27, 2018, the Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle with the Fregat upper stage, Kanopus-V-5/6 Earth remote sensing spacecraft and 26 piggyback satellites successfully blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome. It was the fourth launch performed from Vostochny, the first Russian civil cosmodrome.

In accordance with the flight program, the Fregat upper stage injected primary and piggyback payload satellites into a low earth orbit. On completion of the flight program, the Fregat upper stage will re-enter the atmosphere at an altitude of 100 km ‪at about 10:25 Moscow time and will splash down in a non-navigable region of the Pacific Ocean.

The GRUS, iSAT, UWE-4, Sparrow and eight Lemur satellites, launched as secondary payloads under contracts with JSC GK Launch Services and JSC Glavkosmos, were successfully separated from the Fregat upper stage in orbits with an altitude of approximately 585 kilometers ‪from 07:33 to 07:50 Moscow time.

The Lume-1, ZACube-2 and twelve Dove satellites were also successfully separated from the Fregat upper stage in orbits at an altitude of approximately 495 kilometers ‪from 09:13 to 09:43 Moscow time.

All delivery vehicles – the Soyuz-2.1a launcher (manufactured by Progress Space Rocket Center) and the Fregat upper stage (manufactured by Lavochkin Scientific and Production Association) – performed nominally. Further on, smallsats will be operated by the launch customers.

GRUS, designed and assembled by Axelspace, is the next-generation microsatellite for AxelGlobe constellation, the Earth observation infrastructure to cover the Globe on a daily basis. GRUS has commercially strong telescopes to capture images at a resolution of 2.5m with a swath of 60km, all within a compact mass of roughly 100kg and designed to operate for at least 5 years.

The Flock 3k Payload consisting of twelve 3U Dove CubeSats was designed and built by Planet Labs Inc. (“Planet”), headquartered in San Francisco, USA. Flock 3k is Planet’s latest fleet of commercial, Earth Imaging satellites, which will be joining Planet’s currently on-orbit fleet of 100+ Dove satellites imaging the Earth at unprecedented scale and frequency. The Flock 3k satellites have a mass of 5 kg each and have an expected lifetime of up to three years. Planet’s commercial satellite imagery and added value products are used to serve customers in government, industry, non-profits, and academia.

Part of the payloads are provided by ISL (Innovative Space Logistics), the leading small satellite launch services operator of ISIS – Innovative Solutions In Space from the Delft, The Netherlands. ISL’s ISILaunch24 campaign is arranged on the Soyuz rocket under contract with GK Launch Services and consists of 14 satellites, including twelve 3U Dove CubeSats. The satellites are accommodated in ISIS’ well-known QuadPack deployers, controlled by an ISIS flight sequencer, similar to previous ISILaunch campaigns on Soyuz. With more than 50 satellites already launched on Soyuz in the past, part of over ISL’s track record of more than 300 satellites brought to orbit in total, ISL is pleased to continue its cooperation with GK on launching with Soyuz in future, with capacity on launches planned through 2021.

The spacecraft ZACube-2, created by experts of the Cape Peninsula University of Technological (CPUT) and French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) in South Africa, is a technology demonstrator. Its main payload, is a receiver for the automatic identification of ships (AIS). Additionally, the spacecraft has near-infrared imaging equipment for detecting forest fires. The spacecraft’s weight is about 3.5 kg with a lifetime in orbit of approximately 2 years.

The spacecraft Lume-1 is a 2-unit Cubesat, developed by the University of Vigo, Spain. Lume-1 will be used as the space segment and communication platform for the FIRE–RS system for early detection of natural disasters, in particular natural fires. The device is also a demonstrator of a number of new developments of the University of Vigo. The estimated service life time of the 2.5 kg spacecraft is 2 years.

The D-Star ONE (iSat) and D-Star ONE (Sparrow) satellites are built on the basis of the second generation of the 3U CubeSat platform developed by German Orbital Systems GmbH, a private company from Germany. The satellites will demonstrate a number of new technologies, especially, in the field of services for the radio amateur community. Each satellite is also equipped with a new ADS-B receiver, developed in-house, that will be qualified in space.

The eight Lemur-class satellites of Spire Global Inc. (USA) are 3U CubeSats designed for collecting Automatic Identification System (AIS) ship tracking data, GPS Radio Occultation (GPS-RO) weather data and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) airplane tracking data. The satellites will supplement the existing Spire’s constellation.

The UWE-4 satellite is a 1U CubeSat built by Würzburg University (Germany). It is designed to demonstrate an electric propulsion system and serves as a multidisciplinaty educational project of the university.

GK Launch Services was established by the decision of Roscosmos in furtherance of its strategy to develop commercial launch services, GK Launch Services is an operator authorized to conclude contracts for rendering commercial launch services to satellites with the use of Soyuz-2 family launch vehicles from the Russian launch sites.

SpaceRef staff editor.