Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Russian Rokot Rocket Launches Three Gonets-M Satellites

Rokot rocket launches three Gonets-M satellites on Mar. 31, 2015. Credit: rt.com/youtube

A Rokot carrier rocket lifted off on Tuesday at 04.48 Moscow time (13.48 GMT) from the Plesetsk space center in northwestern Russia to deliver a trio of Gonets-M communications satellites and an unspecified military satellite into orbit, the Russian Defense Ministry said. "The launch took place at the estimated time," a source in the rocket and space industry said. The satellites reached designated orbits at 06.45 pm Moscow time (15:45 GMT).

The Gonets-M satellites will be part of Russia’s low-orbit grouping of telecoms satellites designed to provide communications services for remote areas of Russia.

The Gonets-M satellites – of which numbers 21, 22 and 23 as part of Block 14 were launched on Tuesday – are upgraded versions of the Gonets satellites, a derivative of the military Strela-3 satellite system. They have a lifetime of five to seven years.

Post-launch reports in the Russian media also noted a fourth passenger that hitched a ride uphill, classed as a new “Cosmos 2499″.

According to previous reports, Russia will not be using Rokot carrier rockets after 2016.

The Rokot launch vehicle, developed by the state-run Khrunichev Center, is a modification of the RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) two-stage ballistic missile that is being decommissioned from Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces.

The first launch of Rokot took place on May 16, 2000 from the Plesetsk space center. Since then a total of 22 Rokot carrier rockets have been launched from that cosmodrome.

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