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Roscosmos Soyuz-2 Launch Lifts Gonets-M Satellites, Rideshare Payloads to Orbit 

By Rachel Jewett | September 28, 2020

Roscosmos Soyuz launch on Sept. 28. Photo: Roscosmos

A Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Soyuz-2-1b rocket lifted three Russian communications satellites and 19 secondary payloads to orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region at 7:20 a.m. EDT on Monday, 2:20 p.m. Moscow Time. Roscosmos tweeted after the launch that all spacecraft were launched into target orbits.

Three Gonets-M communication satellites were the primary payload. According to Russian News Agency known as TASS, 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.

Exolaunch, a Berlin-based rideshare provider, organized a rideshare for 15 small satellites and provided launch, deployment, mission management, and integration services. The rideshare provider worked with Glavkosmos, which operates foreign commercial activities of Roscosmos to secure the launch. This was Exolaunch’s seventh mission with Soyuz. 

Exolaunch’s mission, named “Wanderlust, Desire To Travel,” includes a cluster of 15 microsatellites and cubesats for customers from Europe, Canada, the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It included two satellites for Kepler Communications to expand its Global Data Services offering; SALSAT (Spectrum AnaLysis SATellite) for the Technische Universität Berlin; four of Spire Global’s Lemur-class 3U Earth Observation (EO) cubesats; four 3U cubesats for the NetSat constellation for Germany’s Würzburg Center for Telematics; and the UAE’s first environmental monitoring nanosatellite MeznSat. Two unnamed commercial customers were also served.

“This was an ambitious mission and it has been a privilege launching satellites for so many talented teams. With this launch, we have deployed over 100 satellites into orbit, hitting a major milestone in the launch industry,” Exolaunch’s Vice President of Launch Services, Jeanne Medvedeva commented. “As a self-funded and profitable NewSpace company – still quite an anomaly for this industry – Exolaunch is proud to be playing a key role in advancing Germany’s position in the NewSpace field and providing end-to-end launch and deployment solutions for the industry’s leaders.”