July 14, 2017

On July14, 2017 at 09:36 Moscow time, Soyuz-2.1a lifted off from Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch mission is to deliver an Earth observation Kanopus-V-IK satellite and 72 smallsats piggybacked under the federal and commercial contracts of Glavkosmos to their target orbits.

The spacecraft launched under the Russian federal contracts are as follows:

  • MKA-N 1 6U-CubeSat (Russia, Dauria Aerospace in the order of Roscosmos);
  • MKA-N 2 6U-CubeSat (Russia, Dauria Aerospace in the order of Roscosmos).

The spacecraft launched under Glavkosmos contracts are as follows:

  • Flying Laptop microsatellite (Germany);
  • TechnoSat microsatellite (Germany);
  • WNISAT-1R microsatellite (Japan);
  • NorSat-1 microsatellite (Norway/Canada);
  • NorSat-2 microsatellite (Norway/Canada);
  • 48 Dove 3U-CubeSats as part of Flock-2k (USA);
  • 3 CICERO 6U-CubeSats (USA);
  • 2 Corvus-BC 6U-CubeSats (USA);
  • 8 LEMUR 3U-CubeSats (USA);
  • NanoACE 3U-CubeSat (USA);
  • Mayak 3U-CubeSat (the Moscow Polytechnic University);
  • Iskra-MAI-85 3U-CubeSat (the Moscow Aviation Institute);
  • Ekvador UTE-YuZGU 1U-CubeSat (the South-Western State University).

72 smallsats make the mission setting a record in a number of spacecraft to be injected into several target orbits among smallsats launches ever.

The flight timeline is as follows:

• 09:36:49 – launch vehicle lift-off;

• 09:38:46 – 1st stage separation;

• 09:41:36 – 2nd stage separation;

• 09:41:38 – fairing jettison;

• 09:45:37 – head module separation;

• 09:45:42 – 09:52:18 – Fregat upper stage flight to a transfer orbit;

• 10:35:01 – 10:36:27 – Fregat upper stage flight to the Kanopus-V-IK separation orbit;

• 10:38:07 – Kanopus-V-IK separation (orbit i=97.44°; H = 522.5km; h = 478.6km);

• 11:13:29 – 11:14:35 – Fregat upper stage flight to the second transfer orbit;

• 11:58:29 – 11:59:35 – Fregat upper stage flight to the separation orbit of a group of smallsats;

• 12:01:43 – 12:05:03 – Phase 1. Separation of 5 smallsats (orbits i=97.61°; H = 601.5-600.1km; h = 600.0-590.1km);

• 12:10:03 – 12:26:43 – Phase 2. Separation of 19 smallsats (orbits i=97.62-97.61°; H = 601.0-606.9km; h = 580.1-587.4km);

• 12:51:49 – 12:53:15 – Fregat upper stage flight to the third transfer orbit;

• 13:34:39 – 13:35:51 – Fregat upper stage flight to the separation orbit of a group of smallsats;

• 17:18:23 – 17:41:17 – Separation of 48 smallsats (orbits i=97.00-97.01°; H = 485.0-477.4km; h = 482.2-450.5km);

• 17:51:49 – 17:53:45 – Fregat upper stage flight to reentry orbit;

• ~18:18:49 – Fregat upper stage reentry (altitude – 100km), sinking in the Indian Ocean.

Soyuz-2.1a Launch Vehicle

Soyuz-2 launcher is based on the Soyuz-U series. Soyuz-2 features advanced engines and up-to-date control and telemetry systems that significantly enhance the LV technical and operational specifications. The upgrading was done in two phases. At phase 1а, a standardized Soyuz-2.1a was born to accommodate various upper composites with fairings of up to 4.11m in diameter. The LV is capable to orbit a payload with improved accuracy; the upgraded control system and stage I-II engines have allowed for increasing of the payload mass to be lofted to the low Earth orbit. At phase 1b resulted in Soyuz-2.1b, stage III was refitted with a state-of-the-art 14D23 (RD-0124) engine which made its performance even better.

The prime LV designer is Progress Space Rocket Center (the city of Samara). Depending on a mission, Soyuz-2 launcher can be configured with the Fregat upper stage.

Soyuz-2 key features:

  • a new generation of a legendary carrier rocket;
  • environmentally-friendly fuel of kerosene and liquid oxygen;
  • increased performance and a state-of-the-art control system providing new orbiting capabilities.

Fregat Upper Stage

A standard Fregat upper stage was designed by Lavochkin Association to complement various launchers in order to put satellites in different orbits. It is used in Soyuz rockets. A standard Fregat upper stage equipped with extra fuel tanks or drop-off tanks evolved to highly efficient upper stage modifications: Fregat-MT and Fregat-SB.

Fregat key features:

  • independence – the upper stage orbits a payload without uplink control;
  • the logic of upper stage operation provides for responding to potential anomalies;
  • satellite navigation instruments in the control loop improve spacecraft insertion accuracy;
  • lengthy active life (up to 2 days);
  • operations at Baikonur, Plesetsk, the Guiana Space Center and, in the future, at Vostochny.