2015 Expected to be a Record-Breaking Year for Soyuz-2 Workhorse

2014 was a banner year for the Russian Space Agency, with a record-setting fourteen launches of the next generation unmanned Soyuz-2 rocket. A number of other firsts took place in the course of the year as well, cementing the Soyuz family of rockets as the most flown and most reliable rocket group ever.

But already it seems as though the new year will be an even better year, with a full 20 missions already scheduled to take place, a number of them holdovers from 2014.

The Soyuz 2 launcher currently operates alongside the Soyuz-U (mainly used for launching the unmanned Progress Resupply Spacecraft to the International Space Station) and the Soyuz FG (primarily used for human flights with the Soyuz Spacecraft for missions to ISS), but according to Spaceflight 101, the Soyuz 2 will eventually replace the other vehicles once they are phased out.

In fact, in October of 2014, the Soyuz 2 had its first launch of a Progress cargo spacecraft. Other achievements were that the last two launches of the year were conducted without the aid of DM blocks – a derivative of the Blok D upper stage launch rocket developed during the 1960’s.

As Leonid Shalimov, the CEO of NPO Avtomatiki, the Russian electronic engineering and research organization, said in an interview with the government-owned Russian news agency TASS: “Fourteen launches of Soyuz-2 were carried out in 2014 – a record number in the company history,” he said. “Meanwhile, a total of 19 launches were planned in the outgoing year, five have been postponed till 2015.”

Soyuz-2 rocket preparing to launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in June, 2013. Image Credit: Russian Space News
Soyuz-2 rocket preparing to launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in June, 2013. Image Credit: Russian Space News

As a leader in the development of radio-electronic equipment and rocket space systems, the company is behind the development of a number of automated and integrated control systems that are used in space, at sea, heavy industry, and by oil and natural gas companies.

However, it is arguably the company’s work with Soyuz-2 rockets that has earned the most attention. As a general designation for the newest version of the rocket, the Soyuz-2 is essentially a three-stage rocket carrier and will be used to transport crews and supplies into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Compared to previous generations of the rocket, the Soyuz-2 features updated engines with improved injection systems on the first-stage boosters, as well as the two core engine stages.

Unlike previous incarnations, the Soyuz-2 can also be launched from a fixed launched platform since they are capable of performing rolls while in flight to change their heading. The old analog control systems have also been upgraded with a new digital flight control and telemetry systems that can adapt to changing conditions in mid-flight.

Russia is developing a new generation Advanced Crew Transportation System. Its first flight to the Moon is planned for 2028. Credit: TASS
The Advanced Crew Transportation System, a next-generation reusable craft intended for a Russian lunar mission in 2028. Credit: TASS

In total, some 42 launches of this rocket have taken place over the past decade, the first taking place on November 8th, 2004  from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome – located about 200 km outside of Archangel.

The majority of launches were for the sake of deploying weather, observation and communication satellites.

You can see a full list of Soyuz launches and missions scheduled for 2015 here at the RussianSpaceWeb.

Long-term, the Soyuz-2 is also expected to play a key role in Russia’s plan for a manned lunar mission, which is tentatively scheduled to take place in 2028.

Further Reading: TASS

6 Replies to “2015 Expected to be a Record-Breaking Year for Soyuz-2 Workhorse”

  1.  Why are the Russians only making a (Manned) Moon Landing in 2028 that’s 60 years after Neil Armstrongs “One Small Step” We all know that they (the Russians) have had the capability for a landing and that the Soyuz Program has been nothing less than  Superb, So I guess it must only be down to cost……..

    1. “We all know that they (the Russians) have had the capability for a landing…”

      No, we don’t really know that. We only know they not only gave up when it became clear they couldn’t do it first, but denied ever having been interested.

      They might still be able to do a manned circumlunar Zond-like flight in the near future if they saw a reason for doing so (they came very close to doing it in 1968, possibly as little as two weeks before Apollo 8), but at this time, they don’t have one as they did in the sixties. Russia still could not follow it up with a Lunar orbit or landing mission anytime soon. The program and much of the hardware simply aren’t there.

  2. It’s encouraging to see that they are building some new stuff. It seemed like the Soyuz had become the VW Beetle of spaceflight, just reliably chugging along but becoming somewhat outdated.
    The Russians never really had manned Lunar capability. The big launcher they developed for it kept blowing up, so the project was scrubbed. They still need a big man-rated rocket for that new lunar craft.

    1. Soyuz-2 has been in use for a decade now.
      As for the heavy-lift launch vehicle, they also had a 100-ton class Energia, and they are developing the Angara series (the 25-ton class A-5 did its first mission a few weeks ago). (Bigger launchers, however, will take a lot of time, pretty sure they’ll be ready long after SLS.)

  3. I’ll tip my hat to the Russians for the reliability and enduring legacy of their Soyuz rockets.. good job! But for the lunar mission(s) won’t they be using the newer more powerful Angara booster(s)? Lets hope the Angara proves as reliable as the Soyuz..

    All of this is moot if the Russian economy continues to tank as it has begun to do in recent months.

Comments are closed.