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Soyuz-2-1v launches a pair of classified payloads

Russia's light-weight rocket lifted off from Plesetsk on Oct. 21, 2022, carrying two classified payloads publicly designated Kosmos-2561 and -2562. This was the ninth mission for the Soyuz-2-1v launch vehicle since its introduction in 2013.

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The Russian authorities did not release any advanced information about the payload in the October 21 launch, but earlier in the month, an advisory was issued to air and sea traffic to avoid an area in the Barents Sea along the ground track associated with the rocket launch planned between October 18 and 21. The location appeared to match a drop zone for a payload fairing of the Soyuz-2-1v/Volga launch vehicle heading to the near-polar orbit.

According to unnoficial posts on the Novosti Kosmonavtiki web forum, the rocket was expected to deliver a pair of new-generation military satellites designated 14F164 and 14F172. These indexes were not associated with publicly known projects and leaving the intended mission of the satellites unclear on the eve of the launch.

The first attempt to launch the mission was made on the evening of Oct. 18, 2022, but the countdown was apparently aborted shortly before the scheduled liftoff, followed by a 24-hour delay. Another attempt on evening of October 19 was also scrubbed, apparently in the final stages of preparations for liftoff and was also re-scheduled for the following day.

Soyuz-2-1v lifts off

flight

The ninth Soyuz-2-1v rocket lifted off on Oct. 21, 2022, at 22:20:15 Moscow Time, from Site 43 in Plesetsk and apparently followed a standard ascent profile to an orbit with an inclination around 97 degrees toward the Equator.

After a few seconds in vertical ascent, the vehicle headed almost exactly north, under the power of a single NK-33 main engine and the four thrusters of the RD-0110 steering engine. Lacking the four strap-on boosters of its predecessors in the Soyuz family of rockets, Soyuz-2-1v relied solely on a modified core booster as its first stage.

Following the first-stage ascent, the second stage took over the powered flight around 3.5 minutes into the flight. According to witnesses on the ground, the separation of the stages took place at 22:23:45 Moscow Time.

It fired its four-chamber engine moments before the separation of the first stage, thanks to a lattice structure connecting the two boosters, which allows free flow of the exhaust from the second-stage engine above. Right after the separation of the first stage, the tail section of the second stage split in three segments and fell away.

Both the first stage and the fragments of the tail section were to splash down in the Barents Sea, north of Murmansk.

As the second stage continued to thrust, the payload fairing protecting the secret satellite split in two halves and also separated. Its fragments were to fall into the Arctic Ocean, south of the Spitsbergen Archipelago.

Upon the completion of the second stage firing, the Volga upper stage and its payload entered an initial parking orbit. All further maneuvers to insert the satellite into its final orbit were conducted with the help of Volga's main engine in the next 1.5 hours. After releasing its payload, the Volga upper stage performed a deorbiting maneuver over the Pacific Ocean.

The Russian military confirmed the fact of the launch around two hours after the fact and later confirmed the delivery of Kosmos-2561 and Kosmos-2562 satellites into orbit for needs of the Ministry of Defense without any other details.

The US Space Forces initally registered three objects associated with the launch and later added one more. They had following orbital parameters:

Designation
NORAD ID
Perigee
Apogee
Inclination
2022-137A
54109
407 kilometers
420 kilometers
97.0771 degrees
2022-137B
54110
407 kilometers
419 kilometers
97.0759 degrees
2022-137C
54111
188 kilometers
403 kilometers
97.0828 degrees
2022-137D
54112
410 kilometers
419 kilometers
97.08 degrees

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Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: October 22, 2022

Page editor: Alain Chabot

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pad

Soyuz-2-1v rocket is erected on the launch pad in Plesetsk on July 29, 2022. Click to enlarge.