Russia’s Soyuz-2.1v rocket has made a surprise launch Wednesday evening, lifting off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the north of the country to deliver four military satellites into orbit. Soyuz lifted off at 20:14 Moscow Time (17:14 UTC), while the successful separation of all four satellites was announced four hours later.
Wednesday’s launch was not announced ahead of liftoff. While Russia has frequently conducted launches without prior announcement in the past, in recent years the dates of upcoming military launches have been published, or otherwise become public knowledge, in advance.
Despite the secrecy surrounding the launch, the Russian Government did quietly file the usual notices to airmen and mariners (NOTAMS and NOTMARS) advising of an upcoming rocket launch several days before liftoff. These alerts are used to warn pilots and sailors of the potential danger that the rocket could pose them – designating airspace closures and areas where debris from the rocket might be expected to land.
It is fairly common for Russia to issue such notices around the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, which is an important test center for the country’s ballistic missiles as well as its main military launch site.
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