A Soyuz-2.1b medium-class carrier rocket with a Glonass-M navigation satellite has been launched from the Plestesk spaceport in Russia’s northwestern Arkhangelsk Region, the Russian Defense Ministry said on March 16. All pre-launch operations and the launch of the “Soyuz-2.1B” space rocket (SPR) took place in normal mode by Russian Space Forces (Kosmicheskie Voyska Rossii). The Russian orbital group’s ground-based automated control system controlled the launch and flight of the space purpose rocket (SPR).
It was the second Soyuz-2 launch from Plesetsk in 2020. The Russian Defense Ministry recalled that Soyuz-2 rockets replaced Soyuz-U rockets which were in operation from 1973 to 2012. As many as 435 Soyuz-U rockets and 44 Soyuz-2 rockets have been blasted off from Plesetsk. Soyuz-2 (GRAU index 14A14) is the 21st-century version of the Russian Soyuz rocket. In its basic form, it is a three-stage carrier rocket for placing payloads into low Earth orbit. Compared to the previous versions of the Soyuz, the first-stage boosters and two core stages feature uprated engines with improved injection systems.
Russia’s Glonass orbital grouping currently comprises 28 satellites, of which 23 are operating according to their functional designation, three have been temporarily withdrawn for maintenance, one is in the orbital reserve and one is at the stage of flight tests. The Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company Roman Fatkulin earlier announced the Company’s plans to launch three satellites this year to replenish the Glonass orbital grouping.
Glonass-M also known as Uragan-M (GRAU index 11F654M given to the first two pilot satellites and 14F113 to the rest) are the second generation of Uragan satellite design used as part of the Russian GLONASS radio-based satellite navigation system. Developed by Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems, it had its debut launch in 2003. It is an evolution of the previous Uragan second-generation satellites, improving accuracy, increasing power, extending the design life and adding the FDMA L2OF open signal. The last eight Glonass-M spacecraft in production include the new CDMA L3OC open signal.