Russia made its first launch of 2018 Thursday, using a Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat-M rocket to deliver a pair of Kanopus-V satellites to orbit. Soyuz lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Eastern Russia at 11:07 Yakutsk Time (02:07 UTC), beginning a five-and-a-half-hour mission that will also include the deployment of nine secondary payloads.
The two Kanopus-V satellites are part of a series of civilian Earth imaging satellites being deployed by Russia. Also known as Kanopus-Vulkan, the constellation will provide wide-angle images to compliment the higher-resolution Resurs satellites. The spacecraft aboard Thursday’s launch are Kanopus-V No.3 and Kanopus-V No.4, the third and fourth satellites in the constellation.
Kanopus satellites are operated by the Russian Federal Space Agency – Roskosmos – in conjunction with the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, or Roshydromet. In addition to the Kanopus-V imaging satellites an oceanography mission, Kanopus-ST, was launched in 2015 but failed to separate from the upper stage of its Soyuz-2-1v/Volga carrier rocket.
Each Kanopus satellite is based on a bus that was developed for the program. The spacecraft are constructed by NPP VNIIEM, incorporating avionics, power distribution systems and computer equipment manufactured by Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). Each spacecraft has a mass ...