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Soyuz rocket missions in 2002
February 25, Russia launched its first space mission in 2002, delivering a secret satellite into low Earth orbit from Plesetsk. At 20:26 Moscow Time, the Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from Plesetsk, after a 2-hour-7-minute delay caused by technical problems. It was 1666th mission of the veteran rocket based on the R-7 ICBM. Some nine minutes after the blastoff, the spacecraft, officially announced as Kosmos-2387, reached the orbit. The Kosmos-2387 apparently belongs to the Yantar family of imaging reconnaissance satellites, routinely launched from Plesetsk.
April 2: Russian Space Forces launched a military satellite on Tuesday from their Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk. A four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off at 02:07 Moscow Time on April 2 and ten minutes later successfully delivered a classified military payload, most likely Oko-type (73D6) early-warning satellite, to the initial Earth orbit.
The upper stage of the launch vehicle then expected to maneuver the satellite into highly elliptical orbit. This was 220th launch for the Molniya-M booster, which was apparently delayed several times in the past few weeks.
Lubov Kudelina, Deputy Minister of Defense and Anatoly Perminov, Chief Commander of Russian Space Forces, KVR, personally attended the launch in Plesetsk.
April 25: The Soyuz TM-34 spacecraft, carrying a Russian commander Yuri Gidzenko, an Italian researcher Roberto Vittori and a South-African tourist cosmonaut Mark Shuttleworth lifted off from Site 1 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 25 at 10:26 Moscow Time (12:26 Local Time).
October 15: One killed in Plesetsk launch failure
Published: 2002 Oct. 15; updated Oct. 16, 17, 18
Russia's first attempt in more than a year to launch a science satellite ended in a disastrous explosion over Plesetsk cosmodrome, killing at least one soldier and injuring eight, six of whom were hospitalized. A dead soldier was identified as a 20-year-old private Ivan Marchenko. According to the Russian press, the fatality and all injuries were caused by falling window frames and other debris of a processing building.
The Soyuz-U rocket carrying Foton-M No. 1 spacecraft started disintegrating some 20 seconds after blastoff and nine seconds later exploded, showering the launch complex and surrounding area with flaming debris. The launch pad was reportedly damaged by a Block D strap-on booster, which separated from the rest of the rocket seconds after blastoff. A forest fire, which started at the site of the rocket's impact on the ground about one kilometer from the pad, was extinguished.
Russian space forces, which operate the Plesetsk facility, conducted the launch on October 15 at 22:20 Moscow Time. The mission was previously scheduled for October 9. The 6,425-kilogram Foton-M No. 1 was to be the first Russian orbital science mission, since the Koronas-F solar-research satellite entered orbit on July 31, 2001. Since then, an attempt to launch an experimental solar-sailing spacecraft on a sub-orbital trajectory has also failed.
Foton-type satellites, built by TsSKB-Progress in the city of Samara, are based on the Vostok spacecraft and equipped with a capsule, which allows returning life-science and material-processing experiments back to Earth after two weeks in weightlessness. The lost Foton had been the 13th in a series launched since 1985. It carried an array of European, US, Canadian, Japanese and Indonesian experiments with the total mass of 600 kilograms.
The same type of rocket that failed to deliver Foton is also used to launch Russian manned Soyuz spacecraft.
On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Russian officials said the launch of the Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft, which is to use the Soyuz FG rocket could be delayed, pending the investigation of the Plesetsk crash.
October 30: Russia launched the fourth taxi crew to the International Space Station, ISS, to deliver a fresh rescue vehicle for the long-term residents of the outpost.
The Soyuz-FG rocket, carrying Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft lifted off from Site 1 at Baikonur Cosmodrome at 6:11:11 Moscow Time on October 30, 2002. At 6:17 Moscow Time, a ground control station in Barnaul established communications with the spacecraft and nine minutes after the launch, the Soyuz TMA-1 reached the orbit.
The crew of the Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft includes the commander Sergei Zalyotin, flight engineer Yuri Lonchakov and ESA astronaut Frank De Winne.
December 25: Russian Space Forces launched a military satellite on Tuesday from their Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk. A four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off at 15:20 Moscow Time on December 24 and ten minutes later successfully delivered a classified military payload, officially identified as Kosmos-2393, to the initial Earth orbit. The spacecraft is most likely the Oko-type early-warning satellite.
The upper stage of the launch vehicle then maneuvered the satellite into highly elliptical orbit. According to official reports, the spacecraft separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle at 16:23 Moscow Time on December 24, 2002. The satellite established contact with the ground control center at 17:05 Moscow Time.
A major fire at Russia's military ground control center near Moscow in 2001 is believed to be responsible for the loss of control over one or several satellites, providing early warning about missile attack for the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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Last update: October 25, 2012
An ill-fated launch of the Foton satellite in 2002.