Russia prepares space freighter launch to world orbital station

The Russian government commission has approved the launch of a Soyuz-U carrier rocket with a Progress M-13M cargo spacecraft to bring supplies to the International Space Station, Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said on Sunday.

The Progress space freighter will be launched at 14:11 Moscow time (11:11 a.m. GMT) on Sunday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan to deliver food supplies to the world orbiter’s crew and a small satellite, Chibis-M, to study lightnings and thunderstorms in the Earth’s atmosphere.

“After hearing the reports by the heads of services, the state commission has decided that the rocket is ready for fuelling and launch. In compliance with the pre-launch schedule, Roscosmos specialists have started to fuel the rocket,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

The previous space freighter Progress M-12M, which was intended to deliver supplies to the world orbiter, was lost on August 24 and fell in south Siberia after failing to separate from the Soyuz-U booster as a result of a rocket engine failure.

The crew of the International Space Station currently comprises NASA astronaut Michael Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa. They are expected to return to the Earth aboard a Soyuz carrier rocket on November 22.


Glonass-M satellite launch postponed until Sunday

The launch of the Soyuz-2.1B carrier rocket with the Glonass-M navigation satellite was postponed until Sunday because of the approaching cyclone, Russia’s Space Forces spokesman Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said on Saturday.

The launch from the Plesetsk Space Center in northern Russia was scheduled for Saturday, but it has been postponed since the wind force exceeds the characteristics, allowed at the altitude of 7-10 kilometers, Zolotukhin said.

The Space Forces commander, Gen. Oleg Ostapenko dismissed any technical mishaps of the Soyuz carrier rocket.

“All the technical checks were held without flaws,” Ostapenko added.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

The Russian aerospace industry has faced a series of misfortunes over the last nine months, including the loss of three Glonass satellites, a prized Express-AM4 satellite and the fall of the Progress M-12M cargo in south Siberia’s Altai Republic.

The loss of Glonass satellites alone cost the state 4.3 billion rubles ($152.2 million).