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Default Soyuz 2.1b / Fregat launch with Glonass-M, April 26, 2013
by Galactic Penguin SST 04-27-2013, 06:25 PM

A belated (little) launch report, but interesting nevertheless...

The Russians launched their first navigation system satellite in 17 months - one that is desperately needed to replace failing satellites. A Soyuz-2-1b rocket (flying with the new RD-0124 third stage engine, the first time from Russian soil since the pre-Christmas disaster in 2011) lifted off from pad 43/4 of the Plesetsk cosmodrome in north-western Russia at 05:23 UTC yesterday. It and the Fregat upper stage performed flawlessly to deliver the 38th 2nd generation GLONASS navigation satellite (s/n #747) to the planned 19000 km, 64.8 deg. orbit.

Well this alone is not that interesting, right? How about the fact that this is the 1800th R-7 to lift-off?

Yes, eighteen hundred Semyorka. An amazing number for such a large rocket with such a rich history. No other big rockets (perhaps not even the Scud) had such a huge flight history, especially when all but about 50 of them are aimed at orbit instead of the ground, and that the rocket hasn't really changed that much since the mid 1950s! What's more, its upgraded versions will continue as the backbone of Russian spaceflight for the foreseeable future - a feat that none of its contemporaries will achieve.

The closest thing in history is the US Thor-Delta series, with only just over 600 orbital flights (1/3 of the "Semyorka!) and has seen a lot of upgrades over the last 50 years. And its end is only 3 years away from now. Others, like the Atlas, Titan, Saturn series, Protons etc., are either already dead, changed so much that nothing has been inherited from its original namesake, or (like the Proton and the Chinese Long March) will soon be replaced in a decade. Therefore the Semyorka will stand as possibly the only linkage our future generation will have with the dawn of human's presence in space.

May the good old Sevens have a long life and that we can cheer when the 2000, 3000, 4000 etc. R-7 flies!

Spaceflight Now: Third Soyuz launch in a week bolsters Glonass system

And a Russian news report: http://www.kosmonavtika.com/videos/26042013-v1.flv

Last edited by Galactic Penguin SST; 04-27-2013 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:31 AM   #2
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They launched 3 R-7 this last week (Bion M1, Progress M1, Glonass). That's pretty impressive, way to go. As said above, the R-7 isn't new hardware, but it fills perfectly its role as a multitask, extremely reliable if you consider the 1800 launches, and relatively cheap launcher with well-established production lines. And the experience Russia got from all those launches is absolutely unique in the world.
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