Soyuz rocket launches with Russian navigation satellite

A Soyuz booster and Fregat upper stage carried a Russian Glonass navigation satellite into orbit Monday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russian space officials said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced a Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifted off from Plesetsk — about 500 miles (800 kilometers) north of Moscow — at 1828 GMT (2:28 p.m. EDT; 9:28 p.m. Moscow time) Monday.

The Soyuz rocket flew to the southeast from Plesetsk and released its four kerosene-fueled strap-on boosters around two minutes into the mission. The launcher jettisoned its payload fairing, then the Soyuz core stage separated nearly five minutes after liftoff.

An RD-0124 engine on the Soyuz third stage fired next, then deployed a Fregat upper stage to perform three engine firings to place the Glonass M satellite into a near-circular orbit at an altitude of more than 11,900 miles (19,100 kilometers) and an inclination of 64.8 degrees.

The Soyuz and Fregat flight sequence proceeded as planned, Russian officials said.

“All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Soyuz-2.1b space rocket took place in normal mode,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

Orbital tracking data for the Glonass M satellite released by the U.S. military confirmed the mission achieved the planned orbit.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said ground controllers established a stable telemetry link with the Glonass spacecraft after Monday’s launch.

The Glonass fleet consists of 24 active satellites, plus the new spacecraft launched Saturday and another undergoing flight tests. The network, which is run by the Russian military but is also used by civilians worldwide, requires 24 satellites in service spread among three orbital planes to provide global navigation coverage.

The Glonass satellites are built by ISS Reshetnev in Zheleznogorsk, Russia.

The Russian Ministry of Defense was expected to name the new Glonass satellite Kosmos 2545, keeping with the naming scheme for Russian military spacecraft.

Designed for a seven-year lifetime, the 3,100-pound (1,400-kilogram) Glonass M satellite launched Monday is designated No. 60 in the fleet. It will replace an aging navigation craft in the Glonass fleet that launched in 2010.

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