Russian space program in 2021
On February 20, Head of Roskosmos Dmitry Rogozin paid a visit to the Kremlin for a report to the president on the year-end status of the Russian space sector. In a public transcript of his exchange with Vladimir Putin, Rogozin said that 29 space launches had been planned for 2021, including missions postponed from the previous year, referring primarily to the OneWeb Internet satellites, but also to the long-delayed launch of the Luna-25 lander and the Obzor-R radar-carrying satellite. Two modules for the Russian Segment of the International Space Station, ISS, (Nauka and Prichal) were also promised to fly. Finally, one Angara-5 and two Angara-1.2 launchers were scheduled to continue flight testing of the new rocket family. According to Rogozin, the Russian civilian satellite constellation included 89 spacecraft at the time.
A Soyuz-2-1b rocket lifts off on February 2, 2021.
The world's orbital launch attempts in 2021 (as of June 20, 2021 ):
The 2021 space launch score card (as of June 20, 2021 ):
Planned Russian orbital launches in 2021:
June 30, 02:27 Moscow Time: A Soyuz-2-1a rocket to launch the Progress MS-17 cargo ship (Production No. 446, ISS mission 78P) from Baikonur to the International Space Station, ISS. The docking with the station is planned on July 2, around 04:00 Moscow Time.
During the early planning of the ISS flight manifest in 2014, the first Russian cargo mission of 2021 was planned for February 22, however by August 2020, the launch of Progress MS-17 was projected on March 19, 2021. By November 2020, the start of the mission slipped to June 30.
The spacecraft arrived at the processing complex at Site 254 in Baikonur on March 10, 2020, and was mothballed in anticipation of its launch campaign in the following year. On May 7, 2021, Roskosmos announced that specialists at Yuzhny branch of the TsENKI infrastructure center and RKK Energia (the spacecraft manufacturer) had taken the spacecraft out of storage, installed it in its processing rig, inspected the vehicle, connected cable of the testing equipment and prepared it for electric checks and testing of the onboard the thermal control plumbing. The launch compaign testing was scheduled to begin in the following day, Roskosmos said.
On June 3, Roskosmos announced the completion of vacuum testing of Progress MS-17, initiated on May 30. According to the state corporation, tests of the ship's Kurs-NA radio system in the anechoic chamber was conducted at the end of May. On June 8, testing of the ship's solar panels was completed. Specialists also tested lines of the Rodnik water supply system aboard the spacecraft, conducted routine disinfection of its pressurized cargo section and began loading cargo intended for delivery to the ISS, Roskosmos said on June 9.
On June 16, Roskosmos announced that the assembly of the first and second-stage boosters for the Soyuz-2-1a rocket assigned to the Progress MS-17 mission had been completed in Baikonur. On the same day, a meeting of technical management cleared the spacecraft for transfer to a fueling station at Site 91A for loading of its integrated propulsion system and tanker section with propellant components and pressurized gases. The transfer of the spacecraft to the fueling station was preceeded by balancing and weight measurements at Site 254. The preparations of the launch equipment for the mission at Pad No. 6 (Vostok) at Site 31 started on June 17, according to Roskosmos.
On June 19, 2021, Progress MS-17 was returned from the fueling station to the vehicle processing buillding at Site 254 for final integration.
Progress MS-17 was expected to deliver 1,390 kilograms of propellant, 1,509 kilograms of equipment and 420 liters of water.
According to the August 2020 plan, Progress MS-17 was to initially dock to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM. However, in case of a successful arrival of the MLM Nauka module at the station in April 2021, Progress MS-17 would be re-docked to the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the newly arrived component at the end of July 2021. The move will allow Roskosmos to prepare the next step in the expansion of the Russian Segment, this time with the UM Prichal node module. Upon the launch of Prichal, then scheduled for September 6, 2021, the Progress MS-17 will be undocked from Nauka's nadir port, carrying with it a special extension on Nauka's docking mechanism, which was custom-designed for cargo ships and crew vehicles. As a result, the Prichal module will then be able to dock to the reconfigured port on Nauka on September 8, 2021, forming a wider passageway than was available through the adapter, which had been discarded with Progress MS-17.
If everything goes according to the August 2020 plan, Progress MS-17 will log 179 days in space.
Progress MS-17 during processing in Baikonur on May 29, 2021.
July 1, 15:48 Moscow Time: A Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat rocket to launch the eighth OneWeb mission (carrying 36 satellites) from the Soyuz launch facility in Vostochny. (As of April 2021) The rocket for the mission was one of the two launch vehicles shipped to the spaceport from the production factory at RKTs Progress during the night from May 6 to May 7, 2021.
On May 21, specialists from its Vostochny branch of the TsENKI ground infrastructure center and NPO Lavochkin had transported the Fregat upper stage for the mission from the spacecraft processing building, MIK KA, to the fueling station. According to Roskosmos' announcement on May 25, the fueling operations were scheduled to begin in near future and be completed by June 18.
The satellites for the mission were ready for departure to the launch site on June 8, 2021, and Roskosmos confirmed that they had arrived at the Ignatievo airport near Vostochny on June 10.
The assembly of the first and second stage boosters for the mission was performed on June 14.
Fregat upper stage for the eighth OneWeb mission is stransported to the fueling station on May 21, 2021.
On January 19, 2021, Roskosmos announced that its specialists had completed 80 percent of the planned checks. They included tests of the TV communications system, consisting of TV antenna feeders, TV circuitry, decoding hardware and TV connections at crew work places.
The tests also covered the main and backup sets of the thermal control system, components of the propulsion system (Insider Content) and the motion control and navigation system. The specialists also tested pressurization of the propellant supply system in the high-pressure and low-pressure tanks of the module.
A pair of Proton rockets, along with a Briz-M stage and its payload fairing departed GKNPTs Khrunichev factory for Baikonur during the night from March 15 to 16. According to Roskosmos, the Proton-M/Briz-M rocket was intended for the Luch-5x relay satellite, even though no such spacecraft was known to be in final development at the time. Instead, that rocket was intended for the second Olymp military satellite.
As of March 2021, preparations of the Nauka module have remained on schedule for launch in July of the same year, an industry source told RussianSpaceWeb.com.
The MLM module during processing on Nov. 12, 2020.
August 2: A Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat-M rocket (No. N 15000-050) to launch the ninth OneWeb mission (carrying 34 satellites) from the Site 31 in Baikonur. On May 4, 2021, Roskosmos announced that the integration of the four boosters comprising the first stage of the Soyuz-2 rocket with core booster of its second stage had been completed at the vehicle assembly building at Site 31 by a joint team of Yuzhny branch of the TsENKI infrastructure center and RKTs Progress, the Soyuz rocket developer. At the time, the particular vehicle was in the storage mode, awaiting the start of the launch campaign.
The integration of the two booster stages for the Soyuz rocket assigned to launch the ninth OneWeb mission was completed on May 4, 2021.
During the early planning of the ISS flight manifest in 2014, the launch of the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft was planned for September 13, 2021, however in the provisional schedule prepared by Roskosmos at the end of August 2020, the launch of Soyuz MS-19 was slated for October 5, 2021.
At that time, the spacecraft was expected to carry three Russian cosmonauts: Anton Shkaplerov, Sergei Babkin and Mukhtar Aimakhanov, members of the 66th long-duration expedition to the ISS. (By the end of August 2020, Sergei Korsakov replaced Aimakhanov on the crew.) However, in 2020, Roskosmos and the Channel I of the Russian television also discussed sending an actress to the ISS with Soyuz MS-19 to shoot scenes for a sci-fi movie with a working title Vyzov (which in Russian language has a double meaning similar to English words "challenge" and "doctor's house call.") In October 2020, Channel I promised to start casting for the project. On May 13, 2021, Roskosmos announced that actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko had been recommended to be assigned into the primary crew, while Alena Mordovina and Aleksei Dudin to be their backups. On May 19, Roskosmos officially confirmed the crew with Anton Shkaplerov assigned to be the Soyuz commander and a flight engineer during Expedition 66 on the ISS. Oleg Artemiev was the commander of the backup crew.
Four members of the visiting movie crew were scheduled to begin training in Star City on May 24, Roskosmos announced.
If the August 2020 schedule worked as planned, Soyuz MS-19 would become the first crew vehicle docking to the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the UM Prichal module added to the Russian Segment of the station less than a month earlier. At the time, the Soyuz MS-19 mission was expected to last 174 days and land on March 28, 2022. However, in the November 2020, draft of the ISS flight manifest, the docking destination for the Soyuz MS-19 mission was shifted to the MIM1 Rassvet module. The mission's launch date (October 5) and its docking destination on the Rassvet module was confirmed in the official ISS flight manifest approved by Roskosmos on Feb. 3, 2021. At the time, the mission was expected to last for 174 days, until March 28, 2022.
October 28: A Soyuz rocket to launch a Progress MS-18 cargo ship (Production No. 447, ISS mission 79P) from Baikonur to the International Space Station, ISS. During the early planning of the ISS flight manifest in 2014, the second Russian cargo mission of 2021 was planned for April 16, 2021, however in the provisional schedule prepared by Roskosmos at the end of August 2020, the launch of Progress MS-18 was planned for August 18. By November 2020, the start of the mission slipped to October 28.
At the time, the vehicle was expected to dock to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM, and remain in orbit for 334 days, supporting 65th and 66th long-duration expeditions aboard the ISS.
November 17: A Soyuz rocket to launch a Progress MS-19 cargo ship (Production No. 449, ISS mission 80P) from Baikonur to the International Space Station, ISS. During the early planning of the ISS flight manifest in 2014, Progress launches were planned for July 1 and October 16, 2021, however in the provisional schedule prepared by Roskosmos at the end of August 2020, the third and final launch of the Russian cargo vehicle to the station in 2021 was planned for November 17.
Progress MS-19 was expected to dock to the zenit (sky-facing) port of the MIM2 Poisk module and continue its mission for 286 days.
November 30: A Soyuz-2 rocket to launch the Meteor-M No. 2-3 remote-sensing satellite and a group of secondary payloads, including four satellites from Moscow State University, MGU, from Vostochny. (As of April 2021. As of second half of 2020, the launch was expected between August and October 2021).
End of November: A Soyuz-ST/Fregat rocket (Mission VS26) to launch a pair of Galileo navigation satellites from the ELS facility near Kourou, French Guiana. (As of April 2020, the mission was planned for December 15, 2020, but was later delayed until early 2021 and by the beginning of 2021, the mission slipped to the middle of the year and later shifted to October 2021. By March 2021, the launch was planned at the end of November of that year.
December 8: A Soyuz-2 rocket to launch the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft (Production No. 752, ISS mission 66S) with a crew of three from Site 31 in Baikonur to the International Space Station, ISS. By July 2020, a pair of tourists accompanied by one professional cosmonaut was assigned to the 12-day flight, officially designated Visiting Expedition-20. According to a preliminary flight manifest drafted by Roskosmos at the end of August 2020, the Soyuz MS-20 mission was expected to take place from December 8 to December 20, 2021. According to the original plans, the spacecraft was to dock at the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the MIM1 Rassvet module, a part of the ISS' Russian Segment, however by November 2020, its destination on the ISS was switched to the MIM2 Poisk module.
Soyuz MS-20 was scheduled to land with the same crew on December 20, 2021, after eight days in orbit. On May 13, 2021, Roskosmos announced that two space tourists from Japan, Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano, booked by the US-based Space Adventures company would begin training in Star City for flight aboard Soyuz MS-20. They would be accompanied by the Soyuz commander Aleksandr Misurkin, Roskosmos said. The crew was officially confirmed as Visiting Expedition 20, EP-20, on May 19, 2021. Aleksandr Skvortsov was assigned as a backup commander for the mission.
2021: A Soyuz-2-1a rocket to launch the second Kondor-FKA radar-carrying satellite. (As of 2019. Postponed from 2019, switched from Rockot/Briz-KM)
Around or after 2021: Russian military to launch the first new-generation Sfera-V military communications satellite. (As of 2016)
2021: A Soyuz-5 launch vehicle to fly its first test mission (As of mid-2014).
2021: Russia to launch the Ekspress-AT4 communications satellite (as of 2014).
2021: Russia to launch the Ekspress-AT5 communications satellite (as of 2014).
2021: Russia to launch the Ekspress-AMU8 communications satellite (as of 2014).
Soyuz-2-1a rocket lifts off with the Progress MS-16 cargo ship on Feb. 15, 2021. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Soyuz-2-1b with Arktika-M1 satellite lifts off on Feb. 28, 2021. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Soyuz-2-1a lifts off from Baikonur on March 22, 2021, with CAS-500-1 and 38 secondary payloads. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Soyuz MS-18 lifts off on April 9, 2021. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
As of August 2020, the launch of the UM Prichal module was planned for September 6, 2021. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia
A scale model of the Luna-Glob lander presented at the Paris Air and Space Show in Le Bourget in June 2013. Copyright © 2013 Claude Mourier