PLESETSK, September 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has orbited three communications satellites, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
“The Rokot carrier rocket, launched today at 03:23 a.m. Moscow Time [23:23 GMT Wednesday] from the Plesetsk state space launch site, successfully put three Gonets-M communications satellites into the final orbit in due time,” Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.
The launch followed a nine-month suspension due to attempts to fix a glitch in the rocket’s booster, Zolotukhin said Wednesday.
All launches of Rokots were suspended in January after the rocket’s Briz-KM booster failed to deliver three military satellites into their designated orbits, resulting in the loss of one of the satellites.
The light-class Rokot launch vehicle is a modified version of the Russian RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile. It uses the two original lower stages of the ICBM, in conjunction with an upper-stage block containing the Briz-KM booster and space-bound payloads.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, prior to the current launch, a total of 16 Rokot launches were carried out from the Plesetsk site since the first launch on May 16, 2000.
The Gonets-M satellites will be part of Russia’s low-orbit grouping of telecoms satellites designed to provide communications services for remote areas of Russia.
Before today’s blastoff, the grouping consisted of three Gonets-M and two Gonets-D1 satellites.