MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. A Soyuz-2.1b rocket carrying three communication satellites Gonets-M and 19 smaller satellites blasted off from the space site Plesetsk on Monday, the Defense Ministry's press service said.
"A delivery vehicle Soyuz-2.1b carrying a cluster of space satellites Gonets-M and a payload of 19 smaller satellites has been launched," the Defense Ministry's news release reads. The rocket blasted off at 14:20 Moscow time.
This is the first launch of Gonets-M satellites this year and the first one carried out by a rocket of the Soyuz-2.1b family. Earlier, such satellites were orbited by the converted missile Rokot.
All pre-launch preparations and the launch itself were normal. The Aerospace Force's ground systems monitored the launch and the rocket's flight, the press service said.
It was the fourth launch of a medium class rocket Soyuz-2 from Plesetsk this year. The previous one was on May 22.
In September, the CEO of the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems, Nikolai Testoyedov, told TASS in an interview that two Gonets-M satellites were due to be put in space in 2020: one in September, and the other, in November. A source in the space rocket industry told TASS that the second launch might take place on November 16.
Gonets is Russia's sole low-orbit system of mobile satellite communication, meant for global information exchanges with mobile and stationary facilities and also for creating relay communication channels for various purposes.