Soyuz rocket lifts off with 73 satellites

Soyuz rocket lifts off with 73 satellites

A Russian Soyuz booster lifted off Friday from Kazakhstan on a complex mission to deploy 73 satellites into three different orbits, including a Russian spacecraft to locate forest fires, 48 CubeSats for Planet’s global Earth observation fleet, and eight nanosatellites for Spire Global’s commercial weather network.

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket fired into space at 0636:49 GMT (2:36:49 a.m. EDT; 12:36:49 p.m. Kazakh time) from Launch Pad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodome in Kazakhstan.

Heading north from the Central Asia space base, the Soyuz shed its four strap-on rocket engines less than two minutes after liftoff, followed by the release of the rocket’s core stage and bulbous nose fairing.

The Soyuz third stage’s RD-0110 engine shut down just before the nine-minute point of the mission, according to updates provided by a live webcast of the launch. A Fregat upper stage ignited for the first of seven main engine firings to send the launcher’s 73 satellite passengers into three distinct orbits several hundred miles above Earth.

A live video stream of the flight provided by the Russian state space corporation — Roscosmos — ended around 10 minutes after liftoff.

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