Russia launched four satellites to orbit on Saturday (Oct. 22), the nation's fifth liftoff in a two-week stretch.
At 3:57 p.m. EDT (1957 GMT; 10:57 p.m. Moscow time) on Saturday, a Soyuz rocket carrying three satellites for the Gonets-M communications constellation and the Skif-D demonstration spacecraft launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in far eastern Russia.
According to Roscosmos, Russia's state space agency, all four satellites were successfully launched into their intended orbits.
Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com estimates that each of the three Gonets-M satellites, Gonets-M33, Gonets-M34, and Gonets-M35, weighs roughly 617 pounds (280 kilogram's) (opens in new tab).
The group has just joined the Gonets-M (or "Messenger-M") constellation, which circles the planet at a height of around 930 miles (1,500 kilometers). Roscosmos officials stated in a Telegram post(opens in new tab) shortly after Saturday's launch that these satellites "are designed to transport data and provide mobile satellite communications services to mobile and stationary users anywhere in the world."
Skif-D increased its altitude on Saturday; according to Zak, it is intended to function in an orbit that is 5,015 miles (8,070 km) above Earth.
The "D" in the satellite's designation denotes that it is a demonstration craft. According to Zak, Skif-D is "a prototype for the first Russian satellite providing broadband internet connectivity in remote areas, such as Russia's Arctic regions."
Each of the 12 spacecraft that will eventually make up the Skif system will be capable of beaming down to Earth 100 gigabits of data per second, he continued.
With five launches in the previous two weeks, Russia has had a busy October. The launch on Saturday was only the latest.
With five launches in the previous two weeks, Russia has had a busy October. Saturday's launch was the fifth one.
Angola's government's communications satellite was launched by a Proton rocket from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 12; the mysterious EMKA-3 military satellite was launched by an Angara rocket from Plesetsk on October 15; and a Soyuz launched two additional covert military spacecraft from Plesetsk on Friday (Oct. 21).
A Soyuz is slated to launch from Baikonur on Tuesday, October 25 at 8:20 p.m. EDT (00:20 GMT on October 26), carrying a robotic Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station.
Edited by: Ankit Biswas (LinkedIn)