Russia sent a spy satellite into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket Feb. 2 from a snowy launch pad at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, setting off on a mission to detect, locate, and characterize foreign military radio signals.
Leading all other nations, U.S. launch providers flew 44 missions in 2020 that aimed to place payloads in Earth orbit or deep space, with 40 successes. China followed with 35 successful orbital missions in 39 launch attempts.
Three Russian Gonets communications satellites launched late Wednesday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, riding a Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage into orbit on the second successful Soyuz mission in less than 24 hours.
U.S. and British government officials said Thursday they have evidence that Russia tested a space-based anti-satellite weapon, citing an event July 15 when analysts say a Russian military satellite launched a mysterious projectile into orbit at high speed.
A Russian military communications satellite rode a Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage Thursday into an orbit stretching nearly 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) above Earth, successfully launching after a one-month delay to replace a suspect third stage on the Soyuz booster.