Meteor-M No.2-3 And Others | Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat

Lift Off Time
June 27, 2023 – 11:34:49 UTC | 14:34:49 MSK
Mission Name
Meteor-M No.2-3 and others
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
(Who paid for this?)
Soyuz 2.1b
Launch Location
Site 1S, Vostochny Cosmodrome, Amur Oblast, Russian Federation
Payload mass
~2,750 kg for the Meteor-M No.2-3 satellite
Where did the satellite go?
832 km Sun-synchronous orbit with an inclination of 98.57 degrees
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
No, this is not a capability of Soyuz
Where did the first stage land?
Zeysky District in Amur Oblast, Russia
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
No, this is not a capability of Soyuz
Were these fairings new?
This was the:
– 14th launch from Vostochny Cosmodrome ever
 115th flight of an upper stage of the Fregat family 
– 1st launch of a Soyuz 2.1b in 2023
– 80th launch of a Soyuz 2.1b variant
96th orbital launch attempt of 2023
Where to re-watch
Official replay

How Did It Go?

ROSCOSMOS successfully launched a meteorological satellite Meteor-M No.2-3 and 42 accompanying satellites on a Soyuz 2.1b rocket. The rocket lifted off on June 27, 2023, from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, in Russia. This mission marked the 14th launch from this launch site.

Meteor-M No.2-3 And Others Mission

Meteor-M Series

The Meteor-M series was developed by NPP VNIIEM as an advancement of the Meteor-3M series under the sponsorship of ROSCOSMOS and aims to modernize Russia’s national meteorological satellite system. The first two Meteor-M satellites (Meteor-M No.2-1 and Meteor-M No.2-2) featured the following instruments:

  • MSU-MR – low-resolution multispectral scanner for global and regional cloud cover mapping
  • KMSS-2 – multichannel scanning unit for Earth surface monitoring
  • MTVZA-GYa – imager/sounder for atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles, sea surface wind
  • IKFS-2 – advanced IR sounder for atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles
  • BRK SSPD – data collection system
  • RK-SM-MKA – modified rescue radio-complex
Meteor-M No.2-3 And Others
The Meteor-M No.2-3 satellite is being prepared for the launch. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS)

The first satellite of the series, the Meteor-M No.2-1, was launched on 28 November 2017 but was lost due to an upper stage problem. The Meteor-M No.2-2 was successfully launched on 5 July 2019.

The primary objectives of the Meteor-M No. 2-3 satellite include a range of important tasks, including climate and environmental monitoring, exploration of Earth’s natural resources, surveillance of solar activity in the vicinity of our planet, as well as the acquisition of data from automated data collection platforms. Additionally, the satellite features the COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue system.

In contrast to its predecessor, the Meteor-M No. 2-2, the Meteor-M No. 2-3 features an onboard radar complex based on an active phased array antenna, a shortwave reflected radiation meter, and a radio frequency mass spectrometer. These instruments pave the way for all-weather radar surveillance of the Northern Sea Route while broadening the scope of monitored parameters. It has two deployable solar arrays and an on-orbit lifespan of five years.

Accompanying Satellites

As per the agreement between ROSCOSMOS and the Innovation Promotion Fund of Russia, a total of 16 CubeSats from the Space-Pi project were deployed into orbit, while an additional nine satellites were scheduled for launch under the UniverSat program led by ROSCOSMOS. Moreover, 17 smallsats were launched for Russian and international commercial customers.

Meteor-M No.2-3 And Others mission
The accompanying satellites in the Meteor-M No.2-3 and Others mission. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS)

What Is Soyuz 2.1b?

ROSCOSMOS’s Soyuz is a multi-use medium-lift launch vehicle that was introduced in far 1966 and since then has been the workhorse of the Soviet/Russian space program. It is capable to launch civilian and military satellites, as well as cargo and crewed missions to the ISS. Over the decades, several variants of the Soyuz rocket have been developed. Soyuz 2.1b is one of its latest iterations that belongs to the Soyuz 2 rocket family.

A Soyuz 2.1b rocket, launch pad, Arktika-M mission
A Soyuz 2.1b rocket on the launch pad. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS)

The rocket consists of three stages, all of them are expendable. When launching to the ISS, Soyuz 2 can be flown with either a Progress capsule or a Soyuz spacecraft.

Soyuz 2.1b is about 46.3 meters (152 ft) in height and 2.95 meters (9 feet) in diameter. The vehicle’s total lift-off mass is approximately 312,000 kg (688,000 lb). The rocket’s payload lift capacity to low-Earth orbit (LEO) is between 6,600 and 7,400 kg depending on the launch site.

Soyuz 2.1b launch prep, Meteor-M No.2-3 And Others
A Soyuz 2.1b rocket is preparing for its Meteor-M No.2-3 and Others mission. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS)


First StageSecond StageThird Stage
Engine 4 RD-107ARD-108ARD-0124
Total Thrust 840 kN (188,720 lbf),
sea level
1,020 kN (229,290 lbf),
792 kN (178,140 lbf),
sea level
922 kN (207,240 lbf),
294 kN (66,094 lbf),
Specific Impulse (ISP)263 s, sea level
320 s, vacuum
258 s, sea level
321 s, vacuum
359 s, vacuum

Side Boosters

The first stage of the Soyuz 2.1b rocket is composed of four side boosters that are powered by RD-107A engines. Each one of the boosters has a conical shape and a dry weight of 3,784 kg. It is approximately 19.6 meters in length, with a diameter of 2.7 meters. Each side booster has two vernier thrusters that are used for flight control.

The RD-107A engine runs on rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx). The propellants are stored in the pressurized aluminum alloy tanks, the kerosene tank is located in the cylindrical part of the booster, and the LOx one is in the conical section. Each one of those engines have four combustion chambers and together they are capable of producing a thrust of 840 kN at sea level and 1,020 kN in a vacuum.

"Korolev cross", Progress MS-16 mission
“Korolev cross” seen during Stage I separation on the Progress MS-16 mission. (Credit: ROSCOSMOS’s livestream)

Perhaps, the most spectacular moment of the Soyuz 2 rocket’s launch is the separation of the first stage. It happens approximately 2 minutes after the launch. The boosters perform a pattern, known as the “Korolev cross” (named after Sergei Korolev, a very important figure of the USSR space program and history).

Second And Third Stages

The center core stage is powered by a single RD-108A engine, and the upper stage is fitted with a single RD-0124 engine. Both of these engines run on RP-1 and LOx and have four combustion chambers. The second stage is 27.1 meters long, with a diameter of 2.95 meters, and a dry mass of 6,545 kg. It has four vernier thrusters for three-axis flight control.

The third stage of a Soyuz 2 rocket has a height of 6.7 meters, a diameter of 2.7 meters, and a dry mass of 2,355 kg. One interesting thing about the RD-0124 engine on this stage is that it starts its ignition sequence prior to stage separation. This process is called “hot fire staging”.

Rocket-motor-RD-0124б, Soyuz 2.1b
RD-0124 motor at Salon-du-Bourget 2013. (Credit: Pline)

Fregat Upper Stage

Flight qualified in 2000, the Fregat upper stage is an autonomous and flexible stage that is designed to operate as an orbital vehicle. It extends the Soyuz launcher’s capability, covering a full range of orbits (LEO, SSO, MEO, GTO, GEO and Earth escape). Fregat is independent of all the other stages, as it has its own guidance, navigation, attitude control, tracking, and telemetry systems. The S5.92 engine burns storable propellants – UDMH (unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine) and NTO (nitrogen tetroxide). The Fregat upper stage is encapsulated in a fairing with the payload and a payload adaptor/dispenser. Upgraded Fregat-M has additional ball-shaped compartments on top of its propellant tanks, which allows to increase the load capability of the propellant.

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