Final Rockot Booster Launches Russian Satellites Into Orbit

The final Rockot booster converted from an intercontinental ballistic missile launched into space Friday (Dec. 27) carrying a trio Russian satellites and a military payload into orbit.

The Rockot, a launch vehicle based on Russia's RS-18 ballistic missile, launched three Gonets-M communications satellites into space from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The rocket also reportedly carried a military payload called Blits-M, a glass sphere designed to serve as a laser reflector, according to Russianspaceweb.com (opens in new tab), which tracks the Russian space industry.

Rocket's final flight lifted off at 2:11 a.m. Moscow Time on Friday (6:11 p.m. EST on Dec. 26). It was the second launch of a Rockot booster, also known as
Rokot," from Plesetsk this year, and the 31st flight of the vehicle in the last 19 years.

"The first launch of [light vehicle] 'Rokot' took place from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on May 16, 2000," Russia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement (opens in new tab). "In total, during this period, 31 launches of the 'Rokot' LV were carried out from the cosmodrome, which put about 70 spacecraft of various purposes into orbit."

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com 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 Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, 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 (opens in new tab) 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 Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast (opens in new tab) with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network (opens in new tab). To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab).