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Dnepr orbits Russia’s first private satellite and 32 foreign microsatellites

All satellites separated from the third stage at 23:27 Moscow time after the lift-off at 23:11 Moscow time from the Yasny launch site in the Orenburg region

YASNY LAUNCH SITE, June 20 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s first private remote sensing satellite TabletSat-Aurora and 32 foreign microsatellites were orbited by the Dnepr military conversion rocket on Thursday, June 19.

“All of the 33 satellites have separated from the rocket at the pre-set time and were put into their respective orbits,” Kosmotras, the launch operator, told ITAR-TASS.

All satellites separated from the third stage at 23:27 Moscow time within 22 seconds on the 16th minute after the lift-off at 23:11 Moscow time from the Yasny launch site in the Orenburg region, southern Urals.

Kosmotras was established in 1997 under Russian law. The company’s head office is located in Moscow, Russia. The primary area of Kosmotras’ business operations is linked to implementation of the Russian Programme for Elimination of the SS-18 Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICMBs) that are being withdrawn from service and used in the Dnepr Space Launch System (SLS) for commercial orbital launches of payloads.

The Dnepr rocket conversion programme was initiated in the 1990s by the presidents of Russia and Ukraine to convert RS-20 Voyevoda ICBMs (Satan by NATO classification) for civilian uses.

Dnepr rockets are launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and the Yasny Launch Site of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces in the Orenburg region under a joint project commenced by Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The Dnepr rocket is a three-stage liquid-engine vehicle. Its takeoff mass is 210 tonnes. The first two stages are the regular stages of the RS-20 rocket and have not been changed. The third stage has been worked on to improve its flight control system.

The rocket is injected from an RS-20 silo by propellant gases. Its engine turns on after the whole vehicle has come out of the silo. The rocket is made by the Ukrainian company Yuzhmash in Dnepropetrovsk.

TabletSat-Aurura owned by the company SPUTNIX weighs 26.2 kg and is made to operate for one year. It is intended for remote Earth sensing in the interests of a private company. The satellite was made using Russian technologies and a minimum of foreign components. Its cost is about one million U.S. dollars.

Igor Komarov, head of the United Rocket and Space Corporation, said “the launch of Aurora, the first Russian private satellite, is a successful example of public-private partnership in the field of space exploration as private companies clearly cannot fulfil their strategic tasks without the state.”

“I am confident that cooperation between the state and private aerospace agencies in designing and manufacturing high-tech craft will become an important stimulus for further development of Russian competitive technologies,” he said.

SPUTNIX Director-General Andrei Potapov said his company’s plans included “creating a cluster of small spacecraft and craft for super high-definition aerial video surveying and imaging with a resolution of down to one metre per pixel”.

One satellite costs up to five million U.S. dollars.

Dnepr will also orbit 32 other satellites. The primary payload of this launch is a medium resolution satellite KazEOSat (Kazakhstan), weighing 177 kg and intended for broadband multispectral surveying of the Earth with a resolution of 6.75 metres in the interests of agriculture and land-use management as well as for monitoring mineral resources and natural calamities.

In addition to that, the payloads on this launch are Deimos-2 (Spain), Hodoyoshi-3 and -4 (Japan), SaudiSat-4 (Saudi Arabia) and other small satellites, as well as QuadPack deployers with CubeSats. The mission is planned to lift into orbit 33 spacecraft belonging to customers from 17 countries, including Russia.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko announced that military-industrial cooperation with Russia would be stopped. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin replied by saying that the Ministry of Industry and Trade had presented an import-substitution plan to the government on June 10 in order to replace all of the foreign made components with domestically manufactured ones.