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Soyuz rocket missions in 2003
February 2: As NASA mourned the fallen crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, tragically lost on Feb. 1, 2003, Russia launched a cargo ship to resupply the crew of the International Space Station, ISS. The Progress M-47 cargo ship blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 1 on February 2 at 15:59:40 Moscow Time.
April 2: Russia launched a communications satellite to be used by the countrys armed forces. According to Russian Space Forces, the four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off from Russias northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk on April 2, 2003, at 05:53 Moscow Time, carrying a Molniya-1T spacecraft. The satellite separated from the fourth stage of the launch vehicle at 06:50 Moscow Time, after entering a highly-elliptical orbit around the Earth.
At 07:38 Moscow Time, the ground control station of the Russian Space Forces established contact with the spacecraft.
June 2: The Soyuz/Fregat booster blasted off from Site 31 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 23:45 local time (1745 GMT; 1:45 p.m. EDT), carrying the Mars Express spacecraft built by the European Space Agency.
June 20: A four-stage Molniya-M rocket with Block ML upper stage blasted off at midnight Moscow Time on June 20, 2003, carrying a 1,600-kilogram Molniya-type spacecraft, apparently its newest Molniya-3 version based on a Molniya-2M (11F637) platform.
This has been the second launch of the spacecraft in the Molniya family since April 2, 2003. The launch was earlier anticipated on June 19.
August 12: The Soyuz rocket delivered a classified military payload, possibly a Neman-type imaging surveillance satellite, after a successful launch from Kazakhstan. The Soyuz U launch vehicle, blasted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 18:20 Moscow Time on August 12, 2003. According to the Starsem venture, marketing the Soyuz family of launchers in the West, the latest mission was a success. The payload received an official designation Kosmos-2399.
August 29: The Soyuz rocket launched a cargo ship to resupply the crew of the International Space Station, ISS. The Progress M-48, No. 248 cargo ship blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 1 on August 29, 2003 at 5:47:59 Moscow Summer Time.
December 29: The Soyuz FG/Fregat launcher blasted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, at 02:30 local time on December 28, 2003 (2130 GMT on Dec. 27). The vehicle carried a 1,374-kilogram AMOS 2 spacecraft for Israel-based Spacecom Ltd.
The spacecraft separated from the Fregat upper stage some 6 hours 47 minutes after the launch. The Fregat conducted three engine firings during the mission. The first maneuver inserted the spacecraft into the initial low Earth orbit, the second raised the apogee and the third circularized the orbit at the geostationary altitude of 36,000 above the Equator.
The AMOS 2, which is scheduled to operate in space for 12 years, joined the AMOS 1 satellite, which was launched by the Ariane rocket in 1996. The new spacecraft will extend the reach of the network to Europe and the East Coast of the United States. The spacecraft is to be positioned at 4 degree Western longitude over the Equator above the Gulf of Guinea.
The AMOS-2 launch marked the 12th commercial mission of the Soyuz rocket, but only the first attempt of the booster to reach geostationary orbit. The AMOS 2 was originally scheduled for launch onboard the European Ariane-5 rocket, however it was switched to the Soyuz due to unexplained reasons, most likely a mass incompatibility issue with other payloads. Arianespace, which operates the Ariane-5, and Starsem, which markets Soyuz, have an agreement to share launches. Both companies are based in France and supported by the French government.
The launch of the AMOS 2 onboard Soyuz was originally planned for December 18, 2003.
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Last update: October 23, 2012
The Soyuz TMA-2 lifts off on April 26, 2003. Credit: RKK Energia