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Russia postpones two rocket launches

Proton-M rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrone Russia Roscosmos photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider - Copy

A Proton-M rocket at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation announced Sept. 1 the decision to postpone its two rocket launches slated for October this year. According to the corporation’s press service, the liftoff of the Proton-M rocket with the EchoStar 21 satellite was rescheduled from Oct. 10 to Nov. 23, while the launch of Soyuz 2.1a booster carrying the Kanopus-V-IK spacecraft was postponed from October to Dec. 22.

“The Roscosmos commission has drawn up a plan of launches of spacecraft within the framework of the Federal Space Program, Federal Target Programs, international cooperation programs and commercial projects in September-December 2016,” the press service said.

Artist's rendering of the EchoStar 21 satellite.

An artist’s rendering of the EchoStar 21 satellite. Image Credit: EchoStar

However, Roscosmos has not revealed any more details regarding the postponement.

The launch the Proton-M with the EchoStar 21 satellite has been already delayed several times. The liftoff was initially planned for the first quarter of 2016, but then it was rescheduled to late June. Next it was postponed until Aug. 29, and afterwards to Oct. 10 – in order to complete an inquiry into a glitch discovered during a Proton rocket flight in June 2016.

The launch of Kanopus-V-IK was initially targeted for the third quarter of 2016. Then it was planned for sometime in October. It is now set for Dec. 22.

The 190-foot (58-meter) tall Proton-M booster, which will be used to send EchoStar 21 into space from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, measures some 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) in diameter along its second and third stages. The first stage has a diameter of 24.3 feet (7.4 meters). The total overall height of the Proton rocket’s three stages is about 138.8 feet (42.3 meters).

EchhoStar 21 is an S-band communications satellite for the US company EchoStar. It is designed to provide mobile satellite services to the European Union. According to the company, it will have a service life of 15 years and will carry a state-of-the-art MSS payload featuring a large unfurlable reflector.

The Soyuz 2.1a rocket that will be used for the launch of Kanopus-V-IK, also from Baikonur, is 151 feet (46.1 meters) tall and has a diameter of 9.68 feet (2.95 meters). It can deliver payloads weighing up to 7.8 metric tons to LEO and 2.8 metric tons to a geostationary transfer orbit.

Kanopus-V-IK is a small Russian remote sensing satellite for Earth-observation purposes. Designed to be operational for up to five years, the spacecraft has an infrared capability for a primary purpose of detecting sources of fire as small as 16.4 by 16.4 feet (5 by 5 meters) on a 1,240-mile (2,000-kilometer) swath of land.


Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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