The last two launches of the Rokot satellite launch vehicle fitted with a Ukrainian-made control system will be carried out in 2019, after which the vehicle will be decommissioned, a source in the Russian space industry told Russian news outlet Sputnik on 18 December 2018.
“In 2019, it is planned to carry out two launches of Rokot [launch vehicle] with Briz-KM upper stages from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, after which the rocket will be decommissioned,” the source said.
In the first launch scheduled for June or July 2019, a Rokot SLV will launch three Gonets-M communication satellites into low-Earth orbit, according to the space industry source. This will likely be followed by a Geo-IK geodesy satellite delivered to low-Earth orbit, the source said, but added that the Geo-IK might yet be launched in to orbit before the Gonets-M satellites.
In August 2018, the Russian state space corporation, Roscosmos, announced that the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre is developing the Rokot-2 satellite launch vehicle with a Russian-made control system. The current model of the Rokot satellite launch vehicle uses a Ukrainian-made control system.
Since the Russian annexation of Crimea and its incursion into Eastern Ukraine in 2014, Russian space and satellite supply chains have been disrupted by the ongoing conflict.
In a separate announcement, only one launch is planned to be conducted from Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome next year, another source in the Russian space industry told Sputnik, also on 18 December 2018.
“Most likely, it will be the launch of the Soyuz-2.1b booster… planned for spring or summer 2019,” the source said.
The first launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome, on which construction commenced in 2012, was held on 28 April 2016.
The Vostochny Space Centre is the first civil cosmodrome in Russia and is located in the country’s Far East. The Baikonur cosmodrome, which Russia leases from Kazakhstan for about U.S.$115 million per year, Plesetsk (Arkhangelsk region), and Kapustin Yar (Astrakhan region) were initially built as military missile ranges.