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Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan hosts launches of numerous satellites this summer, including the first one for the Kazakh government. Shown here are rarely photographed towers of the Vega receivers, which dominate the landscape just north of the main residential area of the space center. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak



July 12: Dnepr to launch Genesis Pathfinder-1 from Dombarovskiy. (Delayed from April 2006, June 13 and June 16)

July 17: Soyuz 2-1a/Fregat to launch ESA'a MetOp-A meteorological satellite from Baikonur. (Delayed from June 30) As of February 2006, the pre-launch processing was expected to start in mid-April 2006.

July 26: A Dnepr rocket to launch BelKA remote-sensing spacecraft for Belarus, along with UniSat-4, Baumanets, PikPot and CubeSat from Site 109 in Baikonur. (The launch was delayed from February and March 2006 and June 28, 2006) The spacecraft was delivered to Baikonur on May 11, 2006.

July 28: A Rockot booster to launch the KOMPSAT-2 remote-sensing satellite into sun-synchronous orbit for the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) of Taejon. (Delayed from 2004, was then planned as early as August 2005, Dec. 27, 2005 and then second quarter of 2006)

July: A Molniya-M rocket to launch a military payload from Plesetsk.

Aug. 4: A Proton/Breeze M to launch Eutelsat's HOT BIRD 8 from Baikonur. A contract for the launch was announced on Feb. 10, 2005 and at the time it was expected in the first quarter of 2006. The launch was later scheduled for May 17 and July 7 and 21, 2006.

Aug. 6: Dnepr to launch Genesis-2 from Dombarovskiy.

August-September: A Zenit-2 to launch the Tselina-2 ELINT satellite from Site 45 in Baikonur.

Sept. 14: Soyuz-FG to launch Soyuz TMA-9 toward the ISS.

Sept. 22: Proton to launch Arabsat-4B from Baikonur

September: A Dnepr to launch 10 (previously 15) commercial payloads from Baikonur for clients in Egypt, (EgyptSat-1) Saudi Arabia, Russia (AKS-1 and 2) and the US. (Delayed from the end of November 2004, May 27, 2005 and second quarter of 2006)

October: The Soyuz-2-1b vehicle with the new RD-0124 engine to fly its first test mission from Site 31 at Baikonur, launching a 630-kilogram Corot astronomy satellite in a 850-kilometer polar orbit. The mission was announced on Jan. 4, 2005 and at the time it was expected to take place in the second quarter of 2006, it was then pushed to September 2006)

Oct. 6: The Dnepr booster to launch the Lunar Trailblazer spacecraft from Baikonur for the US-based TransOrbital commecial venture toward the Moon.

Oct. 18: Soyuz U to launch Progress M-58 from Baikonur

Oct. 31: Dnepr to launch TerraSAR-X from Baikonur. (Earlier was expected in the third quarter of 2006)

Nov. 26: A Proton/Breeze M to launch the Anik F3 comsat. The agreement was announced on April 28, 2004.

Nov. 27: Soyuz-FG/Fregat to launch GIOVE-B for the European global positioning system. (Delayed from April 14, 2006)

December: A Cosmos-3M to launch the SAR-Lupe-1 and 2 reconnaissance satellites for the German military. (Delayed from 2005 and April 2006)

Dec. 20: Soyuz U to launch Progress M-59 from Baikonur

December: Proton-K/Block DM-2 to launch a trio of Uragan-M navsats.


A Soyuz-U to launch the Don reconnaissance satellite from Plesetsk

A Soyuz-2.1a/Fregat to launch the Meridian reconnaissance satellite from Plesetsk

Second quarter of 2006: Proton-M/Breeze-M to launch AMC-14 comsat from Baikonur

Third quarter of 2006: A Proton/Breeze M to launch the MEASAT-3 comsat from Baikonur for Malaysia's Binariang Satellite Systems Sdn. Bhd. to serve Malaysia, Southeast and Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Australia. The agreement on the launch was announced on Sept. 4, 2003 and at the time launch was expected in May 2005.

Third quarter of 2006: Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat to carry a dummy satellite, GVM, (or military payload?) from Plesetsk.

December: Soyuz-FG/Fregat to launch Radarsat-2 from Baikonur. The contract is announced on Jan. 9, 2006.

Fourth quarter of 2006: A Soyuz 2-1b to launch of Meteor-3M weather forecast satellite. (Delayed from 2005)

Fourth quarter of 2006: Rockot/Breeze-KM to launch GOCE spacecraft for ESA.

Fourth quarter of 2006: Shtil to launch Compass-3 spacecraft from a submarine based in the Barents Sea.

Delayed from 2005: A Cosmos-3M to launch four Disaster Monitoring Constellation, DMC, satellites.

Delayed from 2002: A Strela rocket launch from Svobodny.

Delayed from autumn of 2006: A Soyuz-U to launch the Foton-M3 material-processing satellite from Baikonur.

Delayed from December 2006: The Angara to fly its first test mission from Plesetsk. (As of June 2005) (Delayed from 2005)

Delayed from 2006: A Zenit-2/Fregat-SB rocket to launch the Spektr-R/Radioastron astrophysics observatory from Baikonur. (As of 2004)


Beginning of 2007: The Dnepr launcher to deliver five 175-kilogram RapidEye remote-sensing satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome for Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), of Great Britain.

Second quarter: A Proton/Breeze M to launch SIRIUS 4 for Nordic Satellite AB (NSAB) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft, which will feature 52 Ku-band transponders, as well as a 2-transponder Ka-band payload, is built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS) for operation at an orbital position of 5 degrees East over the Equator. The launch assignment was announced on May 4, 2005.

End of second quarter: A Zenit-3SLB to launch PAS 11 (Star-2) for PanAmSat from Baikonur. (Contract announced on July 28, 2005)

June: A Zenit/Fregat-SB to launch Electro-2 weather forecast satellite into geostationary orbit from Baikonur. (Delayed from 2006)

2007: A Proton rocket to launch the FGB-2 multi-purpose module to the International Space Station, ISS. (As of 2004)

A Proton/Breeze M to launch JCSAT-11 comsat for JSAT Corporation of Japan. The contract was announced on Feb. 7, 2006.

Fourth quarter: Zenit-3SLB to launch Israel's AMOS-3 comsat from Site 45 in Baikonur.


March/April: The Soyuz TMA to carry a Southkorean astronaut to the ISS.

A Proton to launch Canadian Nimiq 4 comsat. The contract was announced on Feb. 7, 2006.

Mid-year: A Zenit-3SLB to launch AMC-21 spacecraft for SES Global from Baikonur. The luanch contract was announced on June 1, 2006.

November: The Russian Soyuz rocket to fly its first mission from Kourou, French Guiana, with the Australian comsat Optus D2. (Soyuz launches from Kourou were originally expected as early as 2006)

End of the year: A Zenit-3SLB to launch AsiaSat-5 satellite from Baikonur.

A Soyuz rocket to launch the first Pleiades Earth observation satellite into heliosynchronous orbit. (Date set: Jan. 4, 2005)

A Zenit-2/Fregat-SB rocket to launch the Spektr-UF ultra-violet observatory from Baikonur. (As of 2004)

A Zenit-2/Fregat-SB rocket to launch the Spektr-Rentgen-Gamma X-Ray observatory from Baikonur. (As of 2004)


A Soyuz rocket to launch the second Pleiades Earth observation satellite into heliosynchronous orbit. (Date set: Jan. 4, 2005)

A Start-1 to launch Israeli EROS-C remote-sensing satellite from Svobodny.

October: A Soyuz-2 rocket to launch the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft to study Mars and its Moon Phobos and return soil samples from Phobos to Earth. (2004)


Before December: A Proton to launch a spacecraft for Sirius Satellite Radio of the US. The contract was announced on Feb. 7, 2006.


The KazSat communications satellite. Credit: Khrunichev

Proton returns to flight, orbits first Kazakh satellite

Posted: 2006 June 18; updated June 19

Less than four months after its latest failure, the Proton rocket resumed its missions with apparently successful launch of the first satellite for the government of Kazakhstan.

The Proton-K rocket with Block DM-3 upper stage blasted off from Pad 39 at Site 200 at Baikonur Cosmodrome on June 18, 2006, at 01:44:05.003 Moscow Decree Time, carrying the KazSat communications satellite. The upper stage and its payload separated from the third stage 9 minutes 28 seconds after launch. Following a successful orbital insertion, the payload separated from the upper stage at 08:32:33.626 Moscow Decree Time, according to Khrunichev enterprise, which developed the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. In a rare appearance in Baikonur, Presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan personally watched the launch accompanied by the head of the Russian space agency, Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov.

Details inside


Cargo ship arrives to the station

Published: 2006 June 24

Russia launched a cargo ship to re-supply the International Space Station, ISS. The Soyuz-U rocket, carrying the Progress M-57 spacecraft, blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 1 at 19:08:18 Moscow Time. The vehicle reached orbit at 19:17 Moscow Time.

The 7,290-kilogram spacecraft docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the station in automated mode on June 26, 2006, at 20:24 Moscow Time, or 19 minutes earlier than originally planned docking at 20:43. The Progress carried a total of 2,578 kilograms of cargo, according to mission control in Korolev.

The launch was targeted for June 28, 2006, in previous revisions of the space station launch manifest.

Russia delivers new crew to the station

Published: 2006 March 30; updated April 8

The Soyuz-FG rocket, carrying the Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft with the 13th long-duration crew of the International Space Station, blasted off from Site 1 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 06:30:20 Moscow Summer Time and successfully reached orbit nine minutes later.

After a two-day solo flight, the Soyuz TMA-8 docked to the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port of the Zarya control module of the International Space Station on April 1, 2006 at 08:19 Moscow Time.

Expedition 13 crew consisted of the ISS commander Pavel Vinogradov of Russia and Flight Engineer and Science Officer Jeffrey Williams of the US. During the launch onboard Soyuz TMA-8 they were joined by the first Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes.


Russia orbits spacecraft for electronic intelligence

Published: 2006 June 25

Russian military received a new spacecraft for orbital electronic intelligence, ELINT.

The Tsyklon-2 rocket, blasted off from Site 90 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on June 25, 2006, at 08:00 Moscow Time.

An official statement of the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, said only that the launch vehicle carried a payload for the Ministry of Defense and the mission proceeded nominally. It is known that Tsyklon-2's missions from Baikonur carry electronic intelligence satellites of the US-PU family. The previous spacecraft of this type was deorbited on April 28, 2006.

This mission was previously expected to take off on June 22, 2006.

Russian military launches spysat

Published: 2006 May 5

A new imaging satellite renewed Russia's dwindling reconnaissance network. The Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from Pad 2 at Site-16 of the nation's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk at 21:38 Moscow Time on May 3, 2006. It successfully reached the orbit at 21:47 Moscow Time, releasing a classified payload, officially identified as Cosmos-2420.

A well-informed Kommersant newspaper described the satellite as a modified version of the Yantar-4K2 (11F695) satellite designated Kobalt-M. According to the paper, the launch of the satellite was previously scheduled for the middle of May 2006, however its pre-launch processing was accelerated in light of the decommissioning of the last US-PU electronic intelligence spacecraft -- reportedly the last Russian reconnaissance asset in the Earth orbit. A 6,6-ton Kobalt-M is developed by TsSKB Progress of Samara and mass produced by OAO Arsenal of St Petersburg, the newspaper said. The satellite is designed for 120 days of orbital operations. Kommersant predicted that upon the completion of its mission, Kobalt-M would be replaced by the Don spysat, also known as Orlets-1.

The NORAD radar found Cosmos-2420 in the 167 by 337-kilometer orbit with the inclination 67.15 degrees toward the Equator, which is consistent with the orbital parameters of the Kobalt and Yantar-4KS-type satellites. It received international designation 2006-017A.

Russia tests an improved warhead system

Published: 2006 April 28

Russian Strategic Missile Forces, RVSN, tested a new platform for nuclear warheads, which reportedly increases the chances of the weapon to penetrate enemy missile defenses.

The K65M-R booster rocket, commonly known as Cosmos-3M launch vehicle, blasted off from the Kapustin Yar test range in the evening of April 22, 2006 and flew in the direction of the Sary Shagan antimissile test site. The rocket lifted a test version of the upper stage, designed to carry multiple warheads onboard the latest generation of the Russian strategic weapons -- the Topol-M ICBM and the Bulava submarine-based missile.

According to Russian military officials, the new upper stage is capable of maneuvering in flight, carries fake warheads designed to confuse missile defense radar, and is less detectable than its predecessors.

A well-informed Kommersant newspaper, reported that the first test of the upper stage was conducted on November 1, 2005, when the previous-generation Topol missile was launched from the mobile launcher deployed in Kapustin Yar. That launch had also fulfilled the goal of certifying old Topol missiles for the extended service. However, since only a single Topol is available for certification launches each year, the next test of the upper stage was carried onboard the K65M-R booster. Based on the Cosmos-3M space launcher, the vehicle was specifically modified for suborbital missions and as many as 300 were launched toward the Sary Shagan antimissile site.

Russia upgrades its satellite navigation network

Published: 2005 Dec. 26

A trio of Russian navigation satellites successfully reached the orbit after the launch from Kazakhstan. The Proton-K rocket with Block DM upper stage blasted off from Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 25, 2005 at 08:07 Moscow Time, carrying a trio of spacecraft for Russia's global positioning system, GLONASS. The payload included a regular Uragan spacecraft and a pair of upgraded Uragan-M satellites.

The launch brought the number of active Uragan satellites to 17, while a fully functional GLONASS network is designed to have 24 spacecraft.



Former spysat enters Earth-watching business

Posted: 2006 June 15

A new Russian satellite based on a military reconnaissance platform joined a crowded field of commercial remote-sensing.

The Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Pad 5 at Site 1, on June 15, 2006, at 12:00:00.193 Moscow Time, carrying Resurs-DK-1 No. 1. The payload successfully reached the orbit eight minutes later.

The planned orbit should have parameters of 360 by 690-kilometer in altitude with an inclination 70.4 degrees toward the Equator.

The Russian-Italian spectrometer Pamela designed to study dark matter and other astronomical phenomena was carried as an additional payload. The satellite was also carried Arina scientific package, designed to study physical phenomena related to earthquakes.

The Resurs-DK, developed by TsSKB Progress in the city of Samara, became one of at least three spacecraft developed in the former USSR in the decade of 2000, designed to provide imagery of the Earth surface for the civilian use. It would be the first Russian civilian satellite with the capability to provide imagery around one meter in resolution.

Zenit orbits comsat

Posted: June 18, 2006

The Zenit launcher successfully delivered PanAmSat’s Galaxy 16 communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, GTO. Early data indicate the spacecraft was accurately positioned and in excellent condition, Sea Launch company, which operates the vehicle, said.

A Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted off on June 18, 2006, at 12:50 am PDT (07:50 GMT) from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the equatorial Pacific. All systems performed nominally throughout flight. The Block DM upper stage inserted the the 4,640 kg (10,229 lb) Loral 1300-series spacecraft, to geosynchronous transfer orbit, GTO, on its way to a final orbital position of 99 degrees West Longitude. A ground station at Hartebeesthoek, near Pretoria, South Africa, acquired the first signal from the satellite shortly after spacecraft separation.

Built by Space Systems/Loral, Galaxy 16 carries 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders, designed to meet the needs of a variety of broadcast customers in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada. Galaxy 16 replaces Galaxy 4R and is the newest member of PanAmSat’s North American Galaxy fleet. With this mission, Sea Launch has now successfully launched four satellites for PanAmSat, including Galaxy 16, Galaxy 13/Horizons-1 in 2003, Galaxy 3C in 2002 and PAS-9 in 2000. This is Sea Launch's sixth mission with a spacecraft built by Space Systems/Loral.

Russia orbits satellite for Israel

Posted: 2006 April 25

A converted ballistic missile delivered an Israeli remote-sensing satellite, after a blastoff from a launch site in the Russian Far East. The Start-1 launch vehicle, carrying the EROS-B1 satellite, blasted off from a mobile launcher deployed at the Svobodny at 20:46 Moscow Summer Time (16:46 GMT).

The payload entered a nominal 508-kilometer circular polar orbit with the inclination 97.3 degrees toward the Equator approximately 16 minutes after the launch. The solar panels of the satellite had been successfully deployed some 30 seconds later.

The mission of the EROS-B1 received more attention from the media that those of its predecessor, in light of recent threats to Israel from the Iranian government. The world press emphasized that the Israeli government, as one of the major customer of the satellite's data, could use it to monitor Iranian military activities, including its nuclear and missile programs.

The launch was delayed from the fourth quarter of 2005 and March 21, 2005.

Zenit launches comsat

Posted: 2006 April 17

A Ukrainian-built Zenit rocket successfully delivered a communications satellite after blastoff from a Pacific-based floating platform of the Sea Launch venture.

A Zenit-3SL vehicle lifted off at 23:30 GMT on April 12, 2006, from the Odyssey Launch Platform, at 154 degrees West Longitude in the equatorial Pacific. All systems performed nominally throughout flight, Sea Launch said. The Block DM upper stage inserted the 4401 kg (9703 lbs) JCSAT-9 satellite to GTO, on its way to a final orbital position of 132 degrees East Longitude. A ground station in Uralla, Australia, acquired the first signal from the satellite.

Built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS), the high-power hybrid A2100AX spacecraft carries C-band, Ku-band and S-band transponders and is designed for a minimum mission life of 12 years on orbit. JCSAT-9 joins nine other JSAT spacecraft currently in orbit, covering North America, Hawaii, Asia and Oceania with communications and broadcasting services for corporate and inter-company networks as well as international telecommunications services.

Workhorse of the Russian rocket fleet malfunctions

Published: 2006 Feb. 28; updated March 2, 5, April 29

A Russian Proton M rocket failed to deliver a commercial communications satellite into proper orbit, apparently rendering it useless.

The Proton M rocket equipped with the Breeze M upper stage and carrying the ARABSAT 4A comsat blasted off from Pad 39 at Site 200 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2:10 a.m. on March 1, 2006, local time (20:10 GMT on February 28, 2006).

According to International Launch Services, (a Russian-American joint venture which markets the launch vehicle outside Russia), preliminary flight information indicated that the Breeze M upper stage shut down prematurely during its planned burn sequence. "As a contingency," the satellite was separated from the upper stage, ILS said.

As of February 28, the company could not comment on the fate of the spacecraft. However the US tracking radar detected the satellite at the 507.7 by 14,695-kilometer orbit with the inclination 51.52 degrees toward the Equator. Such parameters show that the Breeze upper stage initiated its second firing, intended to lift the satellite from the low parking orbit into highly elliptical orbit, which would become circular and Equatorial after subsequent burns. The failure apparently took place at the end of the second burn. (The upper stage burn was some 200 seconds short of planned 30 minutes). In the nominal flight, the Breeze M would release the spacecraft in the 3,150 by 35,786-kilometer orbit with the inclination 14.2 degrees. Russian sources estimated the possibility of salvaging the satellite as very low.

The mission was previously expected in December 2005 and, once was scheduled for February 21, 2006.

On March 2, 2006, Roskosmos said that despite the latest failure, there was no need for formal "grounding" of the Proton launch vehicle. At the time, the nominal schedule called for the next launch of the Proton on May 17, 2006.

On April 26, 2006, ILS issued a statement saying that The Russian State Commission has completed its investigation into the failure. The commission concluded that an anomaly in the oxidizer supply system caused the Breeze M upper stage main engine to shut down prematurely. Based on telemetry data, the most probable cause of the oxidizer supply interruption was a foreign particle that blocked a nozzle of the booster hydraulic pump, the commission stated.

Russia inagurates European satellite navigation

Published: 2006 Jan. 2

A Russian rocket successfully orbited the early bird in the new global positioning system developed by the European Space Agency, ESA.

The Soyuz-FG rocket with the Fregat upper stage, carrying the GSTB-V/2A satellite for the Galileo global positioning system, blasted off from Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 08:19 Moscow Time on Dec. 28, 2005.

The mission, first announced in March 2004, was originally scheduled for Dec. 26, 2005, however it was postponed on the request of the customer.

Rockot orbits new Russian remote-sensing platform

Published: 2005 Aug. 30

A converted ballistic missile, successfully delivered a new type of light-weight remote sensing satellite.

The Rockot booster with Breeze-KM (No. 72507) upper stage blasted off from Launch Pad No. 3 of Site 133 in Russia's Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk on Aug. 26, 2005, at 22:34:28 Moscow Time, carrying Monitor-E remote-sensing satellite. Some 5,960 seconds after the launch and two burns of the Breeze upper stage, the payload successfully reached its sun-synchronous circular orbit 540 kilometers above the Earth surface and with the inclination 97.5 degrees toward the Equator.

According to Khrunichev enterprise, the payload developer, the 750-kilogram experimental satellite successfully transmitted first data to the company's ground control station by August 30, 2005.

The mission was previously planned for July 30, 2005 and August 18, 2005.

Converted Russian missile orbits a pair of Japanese satellites

Published: 2005 Aug. 24

A converted ballistic missile, successfully delivered two Japanese payloads into the polar orbit. The Dnepr launcher blasted off from a silo launch facility at Site 109 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 01:10 Moscow Time on August 24, 2005, carrying the Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite, OICETS, spacecraft as the primary payload and the Innovative Technology Demonstration Experiment Satellite, INDEX, as a "piggyback."

The OICETS spacecraft developed by the prime contractor NEC Toshiba Space Systems, Ltd. (NTSpace) is intended for experiments with laser communications between spacecraft, while the INDEX satellite of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, ISAS, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, would conduct observations of the aurora in the Earth atmosphere.

Minutes after the launch both payloads were successfully deployed into sun-synchronous polar orbit. JAXA confirmed that the OICETS and the INDEX were separated at 6:25:10 a.m. and 6:25:14 a.m. Japan Standard Time, JST, respectively, and were injected into their planned orbits based on information from the ISC Kosmotras. JAXA's Kiruna Overseas Mobile Tracking Station received first signals from the OICETS at 7:39 a.m. JST, which confirmed the deployment of the solar arrays. JAXA was scheduled to receive a signal from the INDEX at 12:18 p.m. (JST) at the Uchinoura Space Center.

Upon reaching the orbit, OICETS and INDEX were nicknamed "Kirari," and "Reimei" respectively.

It was the fifth mission of the Dnepr launcher, which is a converted R-36M ballistic missile. The launch was delayed from Aug. 15, 2005.

Soyuz delivers comsat

Published: 2005 Aug. 15

Russian Soyuz rocket orbited a communications satellite after a successful launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

A Soyuz FG (No. 011) rocket with the Fregat (No. 007) upper stage blasted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 03:28:28 Moscow Time on August 14, 2005, (23:28 UTC on August 13) carrying the Galaxy 14 spacecraft.

One hour and 37 minutes after the the liftoff, and two orbital burns the Fregat upper stage accurately injected Galaxy 14 into the targeted geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

With a liftoff mass of 2,087 kilograms, Galaxy 14 is the second in a series of new-generation satellites ordered by PanAmSat from Orbital Sciences Corporation to provide additional power, greater flexibility and service availability to its customers. It is based on the Star 2 Bus model. This all C-band spacecraft is designed to deliver digital video programming, high-definition television (HDTV), VOD and IPTV service throughout the continental U.S. Galaxy 14 is equipped with 24 C-band transponders, and will join the Galaxy 12 spacecraft at 125 degrees West - one of PanAmSat's key orbital positions for the North American continent.

Galaxy 14 is the 19th satellite orbited by the Arianespace family of launchers for PanAmSat. PanAmSat began operations in the late 1980s with its first spacecraft, PAS-1, which was orbited in June 1998 on the maiden flight of Arianespace's Ariane 4 launcher.

It was the 1,699th launch in the Soyuz family of rockets. The mission was delayed from February, March 16, June 17 and July 28, 2005. PanAmSat previously planned to launch the Galaxy 14 onboard the Ariane-5 rocket.

Sea-based Zenit launches commercial payload

Published: 2005 July 2

The Zenit-3SL rocket has successfully sent a 5,500-kilogram Intelsat Americas-8 communications satellite on its way to a final geostationary position at 89 degrees West Longitude.

A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off from the Odyssey Launch Platform stationed at 154 degrees West Longitude at 7:03:00 am PDT, June 23, 2005. All phases of the flight profile performed as expected. Two-and-a-half minutes into the flight, the first stage of the Zenit-3SL vehicle separated and then the protective payload fairing was jettisoned. Five minutes later, the second stage separated from the Block DM upper stage. The upper stage burned for nearly eleven minutes, coasted for about ten minutes, and then separated from the spacecraft over Brazil, just 29 minutes after liftoff. A ground station in Fucino, Italy, acquired the spacecraft signal. All systems are operating nominally.

Sea Launch returns to flight

Published: 2005 March 2

After several delays caused by bad weather, a Zenit-3SL rocket successfully launched a commercial payload from its ocean-floating platform on February 28, 2005.

The Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off at 7:51 PST on February 28, 2005 (0351 GMT, March 1, 2005), from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned at 154 degrees West Longitude in the Pacific Ocean. The rocket carried the 4,703 kg XM-3 satellite into an optimized geosynchronous transfer orbit of 2468 km x 35786 km, on its way to an orbital location for routine testing. Later, the satellite was expected to move into a final orbital position at 85 degrees West Longitude.

A ground station in South Africa acquired the spacecraft's first signal an hour after liftoff, as planned, Sea Launch said.

Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, International, Inc., the XM-3 satellite is a 702 model spacecraft, designed to provide 18 kilowatts of total power at the beginning of its life. Like its sister spacecraft, XM-1 and XM-2 – also launched by Sea Launch - XM-3 was expected to transmit more than 150 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk, comedy and children's programming to subscribers across the continental United States.

Tsyklon-3 launches Ukrainian payload

Published: 2004 Dec. 24; updated Dec. 26, Dec. 28

A Ukrainian-built rocket and spacecraft blasted off from Russia's Northern Cosmodrome.

The Tsyklon-3 rocket carrying the Sich-1M spacecraft along with the KS5MF2 micro-satellite was launched from Site-32 in Plesetsk at 14:20 Moscow Time on December 24, 2004.

The remote-sensing Sich-1M spacecraft was supposed to be delivered into a 681 by 640-kilometer orbit with an inclination of 82.5 degrees toward the Equator, however initial radar observations by NORAD found the third stage of the launch vehicle and both payloads in the 281 by 639-kilometer orbit. It could be an indication that the second burn of the Tsyklon-3's third stage failed, leaving the spacecraft in a useless and unstable orbit. The second ignition of the third stage engine to circularize the orbit was expected to take place 39 minutes after the launch.

In the meantime, the official press release from KB Yuzhnoe in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, which built both the launcher and the payload, stated that the mission successfully reached its intended orbit. Only 48 hours after the launch, Russian sources confirmed that the launch did not reach intended orbit due to the abnormal performance of the third stage and the orbital life span of both satellites will be cut short as a result. Sich-1M might work only one year instead of three, while KS5MF2 could reenter after six months. Unofficial reports from Ukraine also indicated that after separation from the third stage, both satellites tumbled in space, thus greatly reducing power supply from solar panels.

Russian mission control supported this launch, however Ukranian ground control station took over the responsibility for both payloads after they reached orbit.

The mission was delayed from December 2003, middle of 2004 and the end of November 2004.


Russian satellite in trouble after successful launch from a sub

Published: 2006 May 26; updated May 30

A small Russian satellite orbited Earth following an unusual launch from the depths of the sea.

After a two-day delay due to technical problems, the Shtil converted ballistic missile blasted off from a submerged K-84 Ekaterinburg submarine in the Barents Sea on May 26, 2006, at 22:50 Moscow Summer Time. The rocket carried an 80-kilogram COMPASS-2 science satellite designed to study physical phenomena associated with earthquakes.

According to official Russian sources, the vehicle reached a 488 by 401-kilometer orbit with the inclination 78.9 degrees toward the Equator at 23:06 and the payload separated at 23:06:48 Moscow Time.

Russia launches European Venus orbiter

Published: 2005 Nov. 14

A Russian rocket successfully launched the Venus-Express spacecraft for the European Space Agency, ESA, the first probe designed to study Venus in more than a decade.

A Soyuz FG-Fregat booster, carrying the Venus-Express, blasted off on November 9, 2005, at 06:33 Moscow Time from Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome. The first stage of the launch vehicle separated 1 minute 58 seconds after the launch and the fairing was jettisoned 4 minutes 14 seconds in flight. It impacted 600 kilometers downrange from the usual drop zone in order to improve the performance of the launch vehicle and reduce heat loads on the spacecraft at the request of ESA.

The payload and its Fregat upper stage successfully reached the initial parking orbit and separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle 8 minutes 48 seconds after the liftoff. The upper stage later fired to inject the spacecraft into the geliocentric trajectory toward Venus.

During the pre-launch precessing, on October 22, 2005, the mission was delayed by what was then estimated as approximately 10 days from the original launch date of October 26, 2005. It was caused by problems with the thermal protection layer of the Fregat upper stage and the contamination of the spacecraft. On October 31, the State Commission rescheduled the launch for November 9, 2005. The launch window was open from October 26, 2005 to November 26, 2005.

Cosmos-3 delivers international payloads to different fates

Published: 2005 Oct. 29

A Russian rocket successfully orbits a cluster of eight international payloads, however some run into trouble soon after launch.

The Cosmos-3M launcher blasted off from Site 132 of Russia's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk on October 27, 2005 at 10:52:36 Moscow Time. It carried eight payloads for several countries intended for a sun-synchronous orbit with the altitude of 690 kilometers and the inclination of 98.2 degrees toward the Equator.

Inflatable de ja vu

Published 2005 Sept. 28; updated Oct. 7

Another test of the once-promising inflatable landing device developed in Russia and funded by Europe ended in apparent failure.

The launch finally took place on October 7, 2005 at 01:30 Moscow Time from the Barenz Sea. The Volna rocket carrying the Demonstrator D-2R inflatable breaking device, NTU, flew what appeared to be a normal flight toward the Kura impact range in the Kamchatka Peninsula.

However, initial efforts to locate the landing craft at the impact site were unsuccessful. The analysis of the telemetry from the launch showed that the inflatable device separated from the rocket and was spin-stabilized. Its navigation, video-monitoring and autonomous radio-telementry systems were activated. The telemetry transmission from the spacecraft was received at the Kura impact range and the reentry device was released and inflated some 356 seconds after the launch and the altitude of 238 kilometers.

The spacecraft entered the discernible atmosphere at the altitude of 100 kilometers and soon after its transmission was interrupted by the layer of plasma, as expected during the reentry. With the dissipation of plasma, the radio contact was restored and continued for 25 seconds. No further data came from the craft and no debris was found at the expected landing site.

Some preliminary information indicated that the spacecraft might have overflown Kamchatka and fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Russia reflies science satellite

Published: 2005 June 1; updated July 2

Russia successfully launched a second version of a science satellite, two and a half years after its predecessor was destroyed in a fatal rocket crash.

The Soyuz-U rocket, carrying the Foton-M2 science satellite, blasted off from Site 1 at Baikonur Cosmodrome at 12:00 UT (18:00 local time) on May 31, 2005. After a nine-minute powered flight, the Foton-M2 spacecraft has entered 303 by 262-kilometer orbit with the inclination 89.9 degrees toward the Equator, where it remained for 16 days before its scheduled landing close to the Russian/Kazakh border.

During the 16-day mission, 39 ESA experiments will be conducted in fluid physics, biology, material science, meteoritics, radiation dosimetry and exobiology.

During the mission European experiments and equipment will be monitored by ESA’s Operations Team at the Payload Operations Centre based at Esrange near Kiruna, Sweden. They will be responsible for receiving, evaluating and disseminating scientific data generated by European payloads on Foton such as the Fluidpac and Agat experiment facilities. During 6 of the 16 daily orbits, the Foton spacecraft will be in a suitable orbital position for Kiruna to receive signals from it. Should any experiment parameters need adjustment, the commands will be sent direct from Kiruna to the specific experiment facility.

The Foton-M2 mission provided reflight opportunities for almost the entire Foton-M1 experiment programme lost due to the launch failure of the Soyuz rocket in Plesetsk on 15 October 2002.


The Foton-M2 successfully landed on June 16, 2005, at 11:36 Moscow Time near the town of Kustanai in Kazakhstan.

Copyright © 1997, 2006 Anatoly Zak

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Last update: 2006-07-04