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MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. Russia’s light-class Rokot rocket with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-3A satellite has been launched by a combat crew of the Russian Aerospace Forces on Tuesday from the Plesetsk cosmodrome (Arkhangelsk region in the northwest of Russia).
"The Rokot rocket’s launch was carried out under the general supervision of Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces - Commander of the Space Forces Lieutenant General Alexander Golovko who arrived at the spaceport for controlling the preparation of the Sentinel-3A spacecraft and its launch," the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service told TASS.
All the prelaunch operations and launch of the Rokot rocket passed in the normal mode. The Space Forces’ ground systems were controlling the launch procedure and the flight of the carrier rocket, the ministry said.
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.
The first Rokot launch was carried out from the Plesetsk cosmodrome on May 16, 2000. A total of 23 launches of this rocket have been carried out since.
The latest Rokot launch was carried out in autumn 2015 to place into orbit three military communications satellites.
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.
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.