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Russia’s Rokot rocket with European satellite to be launched from Plesetsk spaceport

February 16, 11:45 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The launch will be conducted at 17:57 GMT
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© ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. Russia’s Rokot carrier rocket (manufactured by the Khrunichev Center) with the European research satellite Sentinel-3A will be launched from the Plesetsk spaceport (Arkhangelsk region in the northwest of Russia) at 17:57 GMT, the European Space Agency (ESA) told TASS on Tuesday.

The original launch date from the Plesetsk military cosmodrome was October 31, but since then it has  been postponed several times.

Sentinel-3A satellite is designed for a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea-and land-surface temperature, ocean color and land color with high-end accuracy and reliability. The mission will support ocean forecasting systems, as well as environmental and climate monitoring. The satellite’s prime manufacturer is the French unit of the Franco-Italian group Thales Alenia Space, the satellite mass reaches 1.25 tons. The Sentinel 3A satellite is expected to be placed on a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 800 km.

Previously, ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner said the launch of the next Sentinel series spacecraft was planned for April 12 this year. The Sentinel-1B satellite will be launched by Russia’s carrier rocket Soyuz-ST-B from a launch pad at the French Guiana Space Center (Kourou spaceport). According to him, another satellite - Sentinel-2B - is to be launched in September this year by a Rokot rocket, but the exact date has not been determined yet.

The Rokot three-stage light carrier rocket was developed on the basis of the RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile. The carrier rocket’s third stage incorporates the Briz-M acceleration unit developed by the Khrunichev Space Center. The Rokot carrier rocket with the Briz-M acceleration unit can orbit payloads of up to 2.3 tons. The carrier rocket’s control system is produced by Khartron-Arkos enterprise in Ukraine.

Media reports said earlier that Russia’s Defense Ministry planned to give up the use of Rokot carrier rockets in favor of the Angara-1.2 and Soyuz-2.1v light carrier rockets.

The Angara-1.2 rocket has two stages with the Briz acceleration units. The serial produced spacecraft comprises two universal modules with the RD-191 liquid propellant rocket engine. The rocket is 42 m long, has a liftoff weight of 171 tons and a carrying capacity of 1.5 tons.

The Soyuz-2.1v rocket is a two-stage light-class carrier. It is 4 m long, has a liftoff weight of 160 tons and a carrying capacity of 2.8 tons.

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