Soyuz-2-1v rocket launches military payload

On Sept. 9, 2021, Russian military personnel in Plesetsk performed a successful launch of Soyuz-2-1v vehicle with a classified payload, according to the nation's department of defense.

Bookmark and Share

Pace of our development depends primarily on the level of support from our readers!

The EMKA No. 1 mission at a glance:

Spacecraft designation Kosmos-2551
Spacecraft mass ~150 kilograms
Orbit 319 by 347 kilometers, inclination 96.64 degrees; period: 90.94 minutes

Optical reconnaissance

Launch date and time 2021 Sept. 9, 22:59:47.491 Moscow Time
Launch vehicle

Soyuz-2-1v (14A15)

Launch Site Plesetsk, Launch complex 17P32-S4, Site 43, Pad 4


The liftoff of the seventh Soyuz-2-1v rocket was previously expected to take place on July 25, 2021, from Pad 4 at Site 43 in Plesetsk, after the launch was postponed from 22:59:47 Moscow Time on July 23 and July 24.

The mission finally lifted off on Sept. 9, 2021, at 22:59 Moscow Time (3:59 p.m. EDT).

Emulating a similar earlier mission, the rocket headed almost exactly north, under the combined propulsion 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 two minutes into the flight. 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 the free flow of the exhaust from the nozzles above. Right after the separation of the first stage, the tail section of the second stage split into three segments and fell away.

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

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

Shortly after launch, two objects were tracked in orbit, likely representing the satellite and the second stage of the launch vehicle. One was orbiting the Earth in a 295 by 307-kilometer orbit with an inclination 96.35 degrees toward the Equator and another was in a 291 by 307-kilometer orbit with the same inclination.

These orbital parameters were somewhat lower than those of the original EMKA satellite, however more worrying was the fact that independent observations had detected no radio signals or orbital maneuvers associated with the newly launched payload. The spacecraft was seemingly losing its altitude as a result of a friction with the rarified atmosphere without any sign of orbital maneuvers to counteract its orbital decay as of middle of October 2021.

On Oct. 20, 2021, one of the objects associated with the launch reentered most likely over the Great Lakes region in the United States. The second and only remaining object also reentered without any signs of prior maneuvers around Dec. 11, 2021.

Around the time of the reentry of the second EMKA satellite in May 2022, a post on the Novosti Kosmonavtiki forum claimed that Kosmos-2555 and Kosmos-2551 had served as targets for Russia's Peresvet anti-satellite laser system. Both satellites were not intended to manuever and functioned as planned. The reentry of Kosmos-2555 was preceded by a statement from Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov about Russia's satellite-blinding laser.



insider content


Bookmark and Share

Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: March 30, 2023

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: March 29, 2018

All rights reserved

insider content



Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense


Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense


Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense


Soyuz-2-1v lifts off on Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense