Site 16 (Pad No. 2) for Soyuz rocket in Plesetsk

Soon after the completion of Pad No. 1 for the R-7 missile in Plesetsk, a second pad was built northeast from the original launch complex. It would also become a space launch site, however, unlike its predecessor it has remained operational until this day. A military unit No. 14003 responsible for all operations at Pad No. 2 was officially declared to be on duty on April 15, 1960.

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Site 16

A mosaic of satellite images showing Site 16 in Plesetsk. Credit: Google Earth

The second launch pad built in Plesetsk remained an operational ICBM site until 1967. Ballistic missile operations officially ceased at Pad No. 2 on January 7 and its launch team was officially disbanded following June. In the meantime, from January 7 to February 3, as many as 16 various components from Pad No. 2 were "cannibalized" and shipped to Baikonur, in order to re-build a launch pad at Site 31, which was badly damaged by a fire and explosion of a launch vehicle with an unmanned Soyuz spacecraft on Dec. 14, 1966. As a result, Pad No. 2 in Plesetsk remained out of commission until 1979. However a deadly explosion and extensive damage at Pad No. 4 in Plesetsk in March 1980 urgently required to re-activate Pad No. 2. A training rocket was rolled out there for tests in December 1980. Launches finally resumed on Feb. 19, 1981, with a liftoff of an early-warning satellite.

On June 7, 1994, the last Zenit satellite was launched from Pad No. 2.

From 2004, the same site was used for launches of Kobalt-M satellites. From 1981 to 2006, a total of 127 space launches lifted off from this site.

By June 2013, the Russian Minister of Defense and the Commander of the Air and Space Defense Forces made a decision to deploy the launch and processing facilities for the Soyuz-2.1v rocket at the unused Site 16. Launches were expected to start in two or three years. (654) In December 2016, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that preparatory work for the refurbishment of the third launch pad for the Soyuz-2 series had been underway and all facilities would be operational by 2019. However by the end of 2018, the reconstruction for the Soyuz-2-1v was promised to start in 2019 and the completion of the work was expected sometime in 2020s.

Next chapter: Site 43

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Pad No. 2 (SK-2) summary:

Site No.
Launch complex, SK
Battle station No.
Military unit No. (V/Ch)
Operational date
First R-7A launch
First orbital launch
SK-2 (17P32-2)
1960 February
1981 Feb. 19
Used for Soyuz and Molniya-M rockets; Oko, Kobalt-M satellites.


Page author: Anatoly Zak

Last update: July 18, 2020

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Pad 2 (SK-2) in Plesetsk.