A Starsem-marketed Soyuz 2-1a launch of Europe’s MetOp-B weather satellite has been delayed by several weeks by a dispute involving its drop zones for its rocket stages. .The flight was originally scheduled for 23 May. However the Russia’s space agency Roscosmos space agency noted that “additional measures” were needed to ensure the drop zone availability for Soyuz’ stages after the vehicle’s liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
This was after concern was expressed by Kazakhstan that the stages from the Northbound launch may not land safely in the Northerly region near to the Baikonur launch site, near Tyuratam, Kazakhstan. The fuel carried is poisonous. MetOp-B is to be launched into a near Polar Sun-synchronous orbit, whereas most flights from Baikonur are usually in an easterly direction.
MetOp-B is the second in a series of three meteorological spacecraft to be operated by EUMETSAT providing continuous weather observations until 2020. MetOp-A was launched in October 2006 by Starsem on another Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome.