Featured Image: ROSCOSMOS
Lift Off Time
|June 27, 2023 – 11:34:49 UTC | 14:34:49 MSK|
|Meteor-M No.2-3 and others|
|Site 1S, Vostochny Cosmodrome, Amur Oblast, Russian Federation|
|~2,750 kg for the Meteor-M No.2-3 satellite|
Where are the satellites going?
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
|No, this is not a capability of Soyuz|
Where will the first stage land?
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|No, this is not a capability of Soyuz|
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
This will be 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 watch
What Does All This Mean?
ROSCOSMOS will launch a meteorological satellite Meteor-M No.2-3 and 42 accompanying satellites on a Soyuz 2.1b rocket. The rocket will lift off on June 27, 2023, from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, in Russia. This mission will mark the 14th launch from this launch site.
Meteor-M No.2-3 And Others Mission
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
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 is equipped with 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.
As per the agreement between ROSCOSMOS and the Innovation Promotion Fund of Russia, a total of 16 CubeSats from the Space-Pi project will be deployed into orbit, while an additional nine satellites are scheduled for launch under the UniverSat program led by ROSCOSMOS. Moreover, 17 smallsats will be launched for Russian and international commercial customers.
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.
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.
|First Stage||Second Stage||Third Stage|
|Total Thrust||840 kN (188,720 lbf), |
1,020 kN (229,290 lbf),
|792 kN (178,140 lbf),|
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|
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.
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”.
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.