A Soyuz rocket stands ready to launch a new weather satellite for the Russian Government Friday, replacing a similar spacecraft lost in a 2017 launch failure. The Meteor-M satellite, accompanied by a host of secondary payloads, will lift off from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome at 14:41 Yakutsk Time (05:41 UTC, 08:41 Moscow Time) Friday afternoon.
Friday’s launch will see the Meteor-M No.2-2 satellite placed into sun-synchronous orbit by a Soyuz-2-1b rocket with a Fregat-M upper stage. This is the same type of rocket that was employed to launch Russia’s last weather satellite, Meteor-M No.2-1, in November 2017.
During that launch a programming error resulted in the rocket’s upper stage firing in the wrong orientation, and as a result the satellite did not reach orbit. A few weeks after the failure the Russian Government announced that the rocket had been incorrectly configured for a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome instead of the new Vostochny Cosmodrome where the launch had taken place.
Although Meteor-M No.2-2 was already planned for launch – at the time of its predecessor’s failure it had been slated to launch in early-to-mid 2018 – the loss of the preceding satellite has increased its importance in maintaining Russia’s satellite meteorology ...