Russian Rocket Launches 6 Satellites Into Space Days After Soyuz Crash

A Russian Soyuz 2 rocket launches on Dec. 28, 2011 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan carrying six new Globalstar communications satellites into orbit.
A Russian Soyuz 2 rocket launches on Dec. 28, 2011 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan carrying six new Globalstar communications satellites into orbit. (Image credit: Arianespace TV)

A Russian Soyuz rocket launched a pack of communications satellites into orbit Wednesday (Dec. 28) in a successful flight that comes less than a week after a similar rocket crashed somewhere in Siberia.

The Soyuz 2 rocket launched six new satellites for Louisiana-based communications provider Globalstar at 12:09 p.m. EST (1709 GMT) in an apparently smooth liftoff from the snow-covered central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  

The rocket lifted off from the same site used by another Soyuz 2 booster on Friday (Dec. 23), but that earlier launch met with disaster when it crashed in Siberia, destroying a Russian military communications satellite.

This image shows Soyuz at the start of its climb-out from Baikonur Cosmodrome on the ST24 mission on Dec. 28, 2011. The rocket carried six Globalstar communications satellites into orbit. (Image credit: Arianespace)

Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is investigating the recent rocket failure — which was the fifth space mission failure in 2011  for the country — and is expected to present an initial report to the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Thursday (Dec. 29), according to Russia's ITAR-TASS news service.

Last week, Russian space agency chief Vladimir Popovin said that an engine failure was the most likely cause of the Dec. 23 rocket crash, though more investigation was needed to be sure.

Today's Soyuz 2 rocket launch was overseen by the European launch provider Arianespace via its Russian affiliate Starsem.  The booster carried six second-generation Globalstar satellites — each weighing 1,543 pounds (700 kilograms) — into an initial 572-mile (920-km) orbit. The satellites are destined for an operational orbit that reaches an altitude of about 878 miles (1,413 km).

The mission is the third in a series of Globalstar satellite launches, Arianespace officials said. Twelve satellites were launched on two earlier missions, each orbiting six of the craft, in October 2010 and July of this year, they added.

Another six satellites will be launched for Globalstar in 2012, Arianespace officials said.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.