Soyuz rocket missions in 2018
In the first Russian orbital launch attempt of 2018, a Soyuz-2-1a rocket returned to flight on February 1, 2018, from the Vostochny spaceport, after a similar mission failed on November 28, 2017. The vehicle successfully delivered the third and fourth Earth-watching satellites in the Kanopus-V series along with nine small commercial payloads.
Second time is a charm for Progress MS-08
After a 48-hour delay, the new attempt to launch Progress MS-08 went without a hitch and the Soyuz-2-1a rocket lifted off from the snow-covered Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur on February 13, 2018, at 11:13:33.233 Moscow Time (3:13 a.m. EST). The orbital insertion also worked as planned and the spacecraft successfully deployed its antennas and solar arrays immediately after its separation from the third stage of the launch vehicle at 11:22 Moscow Time (3:22 a.m. EST).
March 9: Soyuz rocket successfully launches fourth O3b quartet
On March 9, 2018, a Soyuz rocket successfulled delivered the fourth quartet of O3b satellites, to be operated by SES networks and designed to provide low-cost Internet access around the world, after lifting off from its Amazon region launch pad in French Guiana. The European Arianespace consortium, which operates commercial Soyuz launches from the South-American launch site, designated the mission as VS18, which denotes the 18th launch of the Russian-built rocket from the site.
March 21: Soyuz MS-08 enters orbit
In the first manned launch of 2018, the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft carried three members of Expeditions 55 and 56 to the International Space Station, ISS. Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold lifted off on a Soyuz-FG rocket from Pad 5 at Site 1 in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 21, 2018, for a five-month shift aboard the orbiting outpost.
March 29: Soyuz-2-1v launches a military payload
On March 29, 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense successfully launched a light-weight Soyuz-2-1v rocket carrying the EMKA satellite, apparently designed to test a new miniature Earth-imaging system.
June 17: Soyuz-2 rocket launches the 56th GLONASS mission
The Russian military personnel in Plesetsk successfully orbited a fresh satellite to replenish the nation's orbital navigation network. The 56th mission to deploy and maintain the GLONASS constellation lifted off on a Soyuz-2-1b rocket on June 17, 2018.
July 10: Soyuz-2-1a launches Progress MS-09
A Russian cargo mission departed Baikonur Cosmodrome today to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, ISS. The Progress MS-09 spacecraft lifted off at 00:51 Moscow Time on July 10, 2018 (5:51 p.m. EDT on July 9). For the first time in the ISS program, the Progress flight successfully reached the outpost after a two-orbit rendezvous profile.
Launches of the Soyuz rocket family in 2018:
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Soyuz-2-1a lifts off on February 1, 2018. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos