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Kanopus-V pair lifts off atop Soyuz 2.1a in final Russian flight of 2018

A file photo of a Soyuz-2.1a rocket launching an earlier set of Kanopus satellites (from the Baikonur Cosmodrome). Photo Credit: Roscosmos

A file photo of a Soyuz-2.1a rocket launching an earlier set of Kanopus-V satellites (from the Baikonur Cosmodrome). Photo Credit: Roscosmos

At 11:07 a.m. local time (02:07 GMT) Dec. 27, 2018, the Kanopus-V No. 5 & No. 6 satellites took to the skies above Russia atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket from site 1S at Vostochny Cosmodrome in East Russia. This marked the fourth launch the spaceport has seen since its inception in 2016.

The flight of Kanopus-V No. 5 and No. 6 closed out Russia’s 2018 launch manifest. When the countdown reached zero, the vehicles first stage, consisting of four strap-on liquid fueled boosters and the core stage, ignited to propel the stack away from the launch tower. Shortly after maximum dynamic pressures, the boosters were jettisoned, leaving only the core stage (now known as the second stage).

About four minutes into the flight the fairing was jettisoned, exposing the primary payload. Less than a minute later, the second stage finished firing and fell away as the third stage began firing to continue the ascent into orbit. About four minutes later, the third stage finished firing and deployed the upper stage, called Fregat, with the attached satellite pair.

A few seconds later, the Fregat fired for just under a minute to place it and its payload into a parking orbit. After about 45 minutes, the upper stage fired again to circularize its orbit. The launch profile brought the vehicle on a Polar Orbit heading northward up the eastern Russian coast.

The primary mission of Kanopus-V No. 5 and No. 6 will be Earth-monitoring in nature, keeping a watch on disasters both natural and man-made.

Along with the primary payload, 26 other small satellites were placed into orbit, 20 of which were remote-sensing and ship identification satellites from the United States, manufactured by Planet Labs Inc. and Spire Global Inc.

In addition to the United States spacecraft, there was also a Japanese remote sensing satellite from Axelspace, a ship identification demonstration satellite from South Africa, two amateur radio demonstration and one experimental electric propulsion satellite from Germany, and a fire monitoring spacecraft built by Vigo University in Spain.

This launch follows the Kanopus-V No. 3 and No. 4 spacecraft, another set of Earth-monitoring satellites, which launched from Vostochny on Feb. 1, 2018.

Video courtesy of Roscosmos via SciNews





Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.

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