Russian space program in 2020
The world's orbital launch attempts in 2020 (as of March 30, 2020 ):
The 2020 space launch score card (as of March 30, 2020 ):
Planned Russian orbital launch attempts:
April 9, 11:05:06 Moscow Time: A Soyuz-2-1a rocket to launch a Soyuz MS-16 (production No. 745, ISS mission 62S) from Site 31 in Baikonur for a 196-day mission to the International Space Station, ISS. After four orbits in the autonomous flight, the spacecraft is scheduled to dock at ISS around 17:16 Moscow Time on the day of the launch.
The crew was to originally include Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov, Andrei Babkin and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, members of the 62nd and 63rd long-duration expeditions aboard the International Space Station, ISS. The launch window allows the spacecraft to fly a four-orbit rendezvous profile and dock at the MIM2 Poisk module, a part of ISS' Russian Segment, around six hours after liftoff. The spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth with the same crew on October 22, 2020, after 196 days in space.
In early version of the ISS flight manifest, the launch of Soyuz MS-16 was tentatively scheduled for March 30, 2020, but by April 2019, the mission was planned to begin on March 20, 2020. In October 2019, the flight manifest under consideration penciled the launch for April 9, which became the final launch date.
On November 27, 2019, RKK Energia, prime developer of the spacecraft, announced that Soyuz MS-16 had been delivered to Baikonur. The spacecraft was unloaded from its railway car and placed inside the vehicle processing building for acceptance checks and storage, the company said.
The spacecraft remained in storage until January 28, 2020, when it was installed in its processing rig at Site 254 for the initial processing.
On February 19, 2020, Roskosmos announced the replacement of the primary Russian members of the Soyuz MS-16 crew Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin with the their backups due to medical reasons. The commander and flight engineer positions on the crew would now be taken over respectively by Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy would continue training for the Soyuz MS-16 flight, Roskosmos said.
On February 27, 2020, RKK Energia announced that Soyuz MS-16 had been completing autonomous tests, including powering up of onboard systems, diagnostics of computer and radio-navigation gear, pressurization tests and other checks.
On March 14, 2020, RKK Energia announced that its joint team with the TsENKI ground infrastructure center had completed vacuum testing of Soyuz MS-16. The solar panel tests on the spacecraft took place on March 19.
The primary and backup crews arrived at Baikonur aboard Roskosmos' new Tu-204-300 aircraft on March 24, 2020 and the next days they visited the spacecraft processing building at Site 254 for familiarization training inside the actual Soyuz MS-16 undergoing the final preparations. On the same day, the technical management cleared the vehicle for irreversible operations. The fueling operations with the spacecraft began on March 26, 2020 and were completed on March 28, when the spacecraft was returned at its processing complex at Site 254. The integration of the spacecraft with the launch vehicle adapter took place on March 30, 2020.
On March 28, 2020, Soyuz MS-16 was installed in its processing rig for final operations after fueling.
April 14: A Soyuz ST-A rocket to launch the Falcon Eye-2 reconnaissance satellite for the United Arab Emirates from Kourou, French Guiana. On March 15, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the French space agency, CNES, operating the Guiana Space Center, ordered to stop ongoing launch campaigns at the site and all unfinished construction. The only exception were the operations to bring the launch vehicles, payloads and facilities in safe condition and their monitoring.
On March 19, a Nordwind's Boeing-777-200 evacuated 246 Russian specialists from French Guiana to Moscow. A group of 21 people stayed longer to conduct drainage of maximum possible amount of propellant from the stage, so it could be stored without a supervision of the Russian team.
April 25: A Soyuz-2-1a rocket to launch the Progress MS-14 cargo ship (production No. 448, ISS mission 75P) from Site 31 in Baikonur to the International Space Station, ISS. The docking of the vehicle at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM, a part of the ISS' Russian Segment, was scheduled two days after the liftoff. The cargo ship was expected to complete its 220-day mission in late November 2020. Prior to October 2019, the launch of Progress MS-14 was planned for April 16. On March 27, 2020, a joint team of the TsENKI ground infrastructure center in Baikonur and RKK Energia prime contractor completed vacuum testing of the spacecraft.
Progress MS-14 completed vacuum testing on March 27, 2020.
Second half of May: A Soyuz-ST rocket with the Fregat upper stage to launch the CSO-2 military observation satellite for France from the ELS complex in Kourou, French Guiana. Because the Fregat upper stage originally intended for the CSO-2 launch was transferred to the preceding Falcon Eye-2 mission, the CSO-2 launch had to be postponed from April 10 to the second half of May 2020. According to the RIA Novosti news agency, the CSO-2 mission will receive the fresh Fregat upper stage originally intended for the OneWeb mission then planned at the end of 2020.
On March 15, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the French space agency, CNES, operating the Guiana Space Center, ordered to stop ongoing launch campaigns at the site and all unfinished construction. The only exception were the operations to bring the launch vehicles, payloads and facilities in safe condition and their monitoring.
On March 19, a Nordwind Boeing-777-200 evacuated 250 Russian specialists from French Guiana to Moscow.
End of May: Russia to launch the Ekspress-80 and Ekspress-103 communications satellites. The joint launch of two satellites was originally promised in 2018, but in 2016, the mission slipped to the fourth quarter of 2019. On Jan. 31, 2018, Roskosmos announced that the payload structure module for Ekspress-80 arrived to Rome from ISS Reshetnev and was undergoing acceptance checks at Thales Alenia Space Italy by a team of engineers including specialists from Reshetnev. By 2019, the launch was delayed until 2020 and, and by the end of 2019, it was planned for March 30, 2020. According to GKNPTs Khrunichev, the Proton-M launch vehicle and the payload fairing for the mission was shipped from the assembly factory in Moscow to Baikonur during the night from December 5 to December 6, 2019. The echelon arrived at Baikonur on December 15. In January 2020, ISS Reshetnev announced that the mission was planned for April 2020, but by February, the launch was set for March 31. On February 20, 2020, Roskosmos announced that Ekspress-80 and 103 had been delivered to Baikonur.
On March 10, 2020, Roskosmos quoted Director General at GKNPTs Khrunichev Aleksei Varochko as saying that quality control procedures uncovered a mismatch in one of the checked parameters in the components of a Proton rocket. To ensure reliability, the decision was made to replace a series of components, including those on the Proton-M launch vehicle intended for the Ekspress mission at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. As a result, the launch of the Ekspress satellite was expected to be re-scheduled for the end of May 2020, Roskosmos said.
July 23: A Soyuz 2-1a rocket to launch the Progress MS-15 cargo ship from Baikonur toward the International Space Station, ISS. Before October 2019, the mission was expected to begin on July 15. By October 2019, Progress MS-15 was charged at the end of its 132-day flight to deorbit the Pirs Docking Compartment, SO1, a part of the Russian Segment since 2001. The operation would free the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port on the Zvezda Service Module, SM, for the arrival of the MLM Nauka module in December 2020.
October 14: A Soyuz-2-1a rocket to launch the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft (production No. 747, ISS mission 63S) from Baikonur toward the International Space Station, ISS. The launch window should allow the mission to reach the station after a four-orbit rendezvous scenario and dock at the MIM1 Rassvet module, a part of the ISS' Russian Segment, around six hours after liftoff.
As of 2014, the Soyuz MS-17 launch was planned for September 13, 2020, but by the middle of 2019, the mission was re-scheduled for October 14. By that time, Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were assigned to the crew and Roskosmos planned to add another cosmonaut to the mission, in order to increase the Russian crew aboard the ISS from two to three people, as planned in anticipation of the MLM Nauka module launch.
However, continuous delays with the introduction of new American crew vehicles, prompted NASA to negotiate a purchase of the third seat aboard Soyuz MS-17 for its astronaut Stephen Bowen. In case a US astronaut had to be assigned to the mission and the Nauka was ready for launch as planned in November 2020, Roskosmos would not have a large enough crew aboard the Russian Segment to receive and integrate the new module. At the same time, many other factors could require postponing Nauka's launch and, as early as the Fall of 2019, Roskosmos had already taken steps to support the module's arrival in 2021.
November: A Soyuz rocket to launch Resurs-P No. 5 satellite. As of beginning of 2018, the launch was planned in 2019, but by the beginning of that year, it had slipped to November 2020.
November 30: A Proton rocket to launch the MLM Nauka multi-purpose module to the Russian Segment of the International Space Station, ISS. As of the beginning of 2019, the shipment of the module to the Baikonur Cosmodrome was expected at the end of that year.
December: A Soyuz-ST/Fregat rocket to launch Europe's Euclid telescope from Kourou on a mission to map the distribution of galaxies. (As of October 2011, pending final approval the launch was expected in 2019. Approved in June 2012 with the 2020 launch date. By the end of 2012, the mission was expected in the mid-2020s. By the end of 2015, the launch was confirmed in December 2020.)
December 9: A Soyuz-2.1b rocket to launch the 2,100-kilogram Arktika-M No. 1 remote-sensing satellite into a highly elliptical 12-hour orbit (perigee: 800-2,500 kilometers, inclination: 62.8-63.5 degrees) from Baikonur. The constellation is designed to monitor high-altitude areas of the Earth. The spacecraft is to be based on the Elektro weather-forecasting satellite. In 2008, the first pair of Arktika-M satellites was expected to fly in 2013. (299), but by December 2010, the mission slipped to 2014. (442) By 2012, the first launch was promised in 2015 and the second in 2016. In the middle of 2015, the launch was postponed from 2016 to 2017. By the beginning 2018, the launch was promised in 2019, but by the middle of that year, the mission was not expected to liftoff before 2020. The launch was then planned for the third or fourth quarter of 202o and early in 2020, it was set for December 9 of that year.
December 11: A Soyuz-2-1a rocket to launch the Progress MS-16 cargo ship (production No. 445, ISS mission 77P) from Baikonur's Site 31 to the International Space Station, ISS. The vehicle is expected to fly a two-day rendezvous profile and dock at the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module, SM, a part of the ISS' Russian Segment. During the planning of the ISS launch manifest in the Fall of 2019, the Progress MS-16 mission was expected to last 220 days, but its December 11, 2020, launch date also put the cargo ship into the time frame for a potential back-up role as "burial" vehicle for the Pirs Docking Compartment, SO1. The disposal operation would free the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port on the Zvezda Service Module, SM, for the arrival of the MLM Nauka module. The primary role to discard Pirs was at the time assigned to the Progress MS-15 mission, however a potential delay with the December 2020 launch of the Nauka would shift the responsibility for Pirs' disposal to Progress MS-16, because mission control wanted to keep Pirs at the station until the delivery of Nauka was imminent. To perform its disposal backup duty, Progress MS-16 would need a number of avionics for automated and manual control, which would have to be installed during its pre-launch processing in Baikonur. The exact launch date of Progress MS-16 was also subject to change depending on the status of the MLM launch (Insider Content).
End of 2020: A Soyuz rocket to launch Resurs-P No. 4 satellite. (As of beginning of 2019. Postponed from 2018. )
Soyuz-2-1b lifts off from Baikonur with 34 OneWeb satellites on February 7, 2020. Click to enlarge. Credit: Arianespace
Soyuz lifts off with 34 OneWeb satellites on March 21, 2020. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
The Arktika satellite could be based on the Elektro weather-forecasting satellite. Credit: Roskosmos
At the end of 2015, the Euclid space observatory was promised to launch in December 2020. Credit: ESA