Russia Likely To Cut 2022 Launch Campaign By Third
Disruption of commercial and scientific cooperation with Western countries because of the conflict in Ukraine is likely to cause Russia’s space-launch campaign to be reduced by one-third this year, with about 20 launches now planned, Dmitry Rogozin, CEO of the Russian State Space Corp. Roscosmos, has confirmed following reports in the Russian media.
Russia has made four launches so far this year: one military liftoff in January, the launch of 34 OneWeb satellites in February, the Progress MS-19 cargo capsule mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in the same month and the Soyuz MS-21 crewed flight in March.
The next Roscosmos launch is planned for no earlier than June 3 when the Progress MS-20 cargo capsule will head for the ISS. A Russian space industry source confirmed to Aviation Week that Roscosmos was keen to keep all ISS-related missions planned for this year. Those missions are another Progress cargo mission in October and a crewed flight on Soyuz MS-22 in September.
The source also said Russia plans to increase its satellite constellations this year, launching Gonetz-M, Luch and Glonass communication and navigation spacecraft, Meteor-M and the Elector-L hydrometeorological satellites, and the Ionosfera space probe.
Russia’s largest scientific effort will be the launch of the Luna-25 uncrewed lander to the Moon in July.
Roscosmos still hopes to make at least two commercial launches this year, the source said. Korea Aerospace Industries’ CAS500-2 satellite for precision ground observation together with some secondary payloads are expected to be orbited by a Soyuz 2 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan in the third quarter. Another spacecraft, the AngoSat-2 communication satellite assembled by Roscosmos for Angola, is scheduled for launch from there aboard a Proton heavy-lift rocket.
More military launches are likely by Russian Aerospace Forces from its spaceport in Plesetsk.
The previous campaign announced by Rogozin in January called for about 30 launches from Russian spaceports Plesetsk and Vostochny, Baikonur and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) site in French Guiana. Ten of those launches were suspended following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Roscosmos has lost its largest commercial customer—OneWeb—which suspended its remaining six launches from Baikonur. Three Soyuz launches from Kourou have been put on hold after Roscosmos withdrew its crew from the ESA spaceport.
Another significant canceled launch was the Russo-European ExoMars scientific mission, which was expected to head for Mars atop a Russian Proton heavy rocket from Baikonur in September. Rogozin stressed that Roscosmos would start working on the implementation of a solo mission to Mars in the near future.
“We will lose a few years, but will duplicate our [ExoMars Kazachok] lander, make the Angara launch vehicle for it and launch an independent scientific mission from a new launch pad at the Vostochny spaceport,” he wrote in his social media account. The Roscosmos press-service told Aviation Week it was too early to provide any details on this program.