On June 27, at 11:34 UTC, from Vostochny cosmodrome, in southern Siberia, a Soyuz 2.1b with an upper-stage Fregat, has placed in sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) the weather satellite Meteor-M2-3. It is the fourth of the latest version of the long-lived series of Russian weather satellites.
PHI-Demo with two innovations heading to space.— MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) June 27, 2023
An image of the launch of the Soyuz-2 rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia. The rocket carried the PHI-Demo satellite with two new technologies to be tested in space.#PHIDemo pic.twitter.com/LWIhFhCgEt
Together with Meteor-M2-3, will be placed in the SSO, from the same Upper-stage Fregat, 42 Cube-Sat intended for as many experiments of state universities of the Russian Federation.
The mission also carried the PHI-Demo satellite, developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in collaboration with Khalifa University, American University of Ras Al Khaimah and the National Space Science and Technology Center.
The Meteor satellites
The first Meteor satellites date back to the late 60’s. Their development started from the basis of a 1962 project aimed at providing detailed weather forecasts for use by military aviation strategic bombers (VVS).
Since the first experimental satellite, named Kosmos-122, between 1969 and 1977 there was a total number of 28 specimens, all however with a very low operational life: six months. With the second generation an operational duration of one year has been reached and with the third, at two years.
This has allowed a considerable cost-cutting due to the reduced number of satellites needed to be produced: from 28 specimens of the first two series to only eight of the series 3 and 3M.
The M series
With the M series, of which six specimens were originally planned, we move on to a more accurate level of analysis of the atmosphere and more: they are also equipped with instruments (KMSS-2 and MTVZA-GYa) for the study of land and sea surface temperatures and measurements of the thickness of ice both on land and in the sea. Every Meteor-M weighs 2750 kg.
Five specimens have been launched so far since 2009, of which only Meteor M2-1, launched on Nov. 28, 2017, failed to reach orbit due to launcher failure. It’s expected one last launch, in December 2023 of the M series with the M2-4; the new generation, already under development, will be Meteor-MP.
This is the 81st, the 78th successful launch, of version b of the latest generation of launchers dating back to the early R7 “Semjorka” which carried it into orbit Sputnik-1 and Vostok-1. This long-lived and versatile mid-range launcher can now carry 8,200 kg in low earth orbit (LEO) and 3,250 kg in Geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
The June 27 launch was the fifteenth operational launch from the civilian cosmodrome of Vostochny.