Russian rocketry shows off its power in a video of a Soyuz-2 booster launching four satellites into space this week.
A trio of Gonets-M satellites and a military nanosat called Kosmos-2548 (or ERA-1) successfully launched on Wednesday (Dec. 2) at 10:14 p.m. EST (0114 GMT or 3:14 a.m. Moscow time Thursday, Dec. 3) from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, which is about 500 miles (800 km) north of Moscow.
The official video from the Russian Defense Ministry on Youtube (opens in new tab) shows incredible views of the rocket flying into space, with orange flames spewing into the black night sky.
The Soyuz rocket: Russia's venerable workhorse booster explained (opens in new tab)
"All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Soyuz-2 rocket went nominally," Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement. The Fregat upper stage of the rocket successfully sent the satellites into their proper orbits about two hours after launch, Roscosmos added.
Roscosmos described Kosmos-2548 as a "nanoscale service platform" for the Russian Defense Ministry, meant to test "advanced micro-devices and orientation and astrogation microsystems." The Gonets-M satellites will be used for low-Earth orbit commercial communications.
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This is is the 17th launch of Gonets-M satellites for a larger constellation, but only the second satellite set launched on a Soyuz rocket, according to RussianSpaceWeb.com. Previously, Gonets-M satellites were launched on the now-retired Rockot booster.
The communications satellites normally operate in a near-polar orbit of 82.5 degrees, at roughly 870 miles (1,400 km) in altitude. That's roughly three times as high as the International Space Station's equatorial orbit of 250 miles (400 km).
The Gonets-M system includes four new regional stations in 2020 to improve operations, RussianSpaceWeb.com added. More satellites could be added to the constellation with the additional network capacity available on the ground, allowing for this latest launch.
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