Meteor M No. 2-3 has a launch date set, July 27th or 28th, 2023. Will it launch? We really don’t know.
All images in this article courtesy of Роскосмос (Roscosmos)
Vacuum tests of the upper stage of the “Fregat” are being carried out to launch the meteorological satellite “Meteor-M” No. 2-3 into orbit from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. The test are conducted by specialists from the Vostochny Space Center (a branch of the Center for the Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure) and the Scientific and Production Association named after S.A. Lavochkin (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation). Next will be the electrical and final checks of the upper stage and installation on the rocket. Then the “Fregat” will be sent to the refueling station.
Meteor-M № 2-3 has been delivered to the Vostochny Cosmodrome for installation in the aero shell along with other sats that are hitching a ride. Compared to Meteor-M No. 2-2, the new satellite is equipped with an onboard radar system based on an active phased antenna array and heliogeophysical instruments (a short-wave reflected radiation meter and a radio frequency mass spectrometer). This will ensure all-weather radar monitoring of the Northern Sea Route and expand the range of controlled heliogeophysical parameters.
The latest update from the Vostochny Cosmodrome and their Launch Schedule for Meteor-M No.2-3 aboard the Soyuz 2.1b has again been delayed to July 28th 2023, but at least a date was given but with no launch time specified. If and when it launches it will be from Cosmodrome Site 1S at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Siberia, Russian Federation. This launch will use the Soyuz-2.1b launch system. Meteor-M n°2-3 will not be the only spacecraft deployed to orbit, many other sats will be deployed as well. Many of these are small ‘Cube Sats’ and/or “Nano Sats’. Two sats, Yarilo n°3 andYarilo n°4 are solar research microsats and will be scattered by solar sails. Interestingly they will be transmitting on 433 Mhz. Other piggyback payloads are listed below and range from research to communications satellites. Monitor-2 is another variant of the Monitor-E satellite program and looks to be an earth-observing satellite.
Avion Kalouga 650
сubeSat 3U TchGU
Upper-stage Fregat was delivered to Vostochny cosmodrome in February to launch the meteorological satellite Meteor-M No. 2-3
The long history of the Meteor M 2-3 delays
The Russian Meteor Satellite program, which aims to monitor weather patterns and provide accurate climate data, has experienced significant delays. This program was initially launched in 2014, and since then, it has been plagued by technical issues and bureaucratic obstacles.
The Meteor Satellite program has faced several setbacks, including launch failures and software malfunctions. In November 2017, a launch of a Meteor-M satellite failed due to a programming error, resulting in the loss of the satellite and several secondary payloads. In addition to technical problems, the program has also been affected by funding issues and bureaucratic red tape.
The delays in the Meteor Satellite program have caused concern among scientists and meteorologists who rely on the data provided by these satellites to make accurate weather predictions. This delay has also affected Russia’s ability to provide climate data to the international community and participate in global climate research initiatives.
By the middle of 2020, the launch of Meteor M2-3 shifted to the end of 2021, Meteor-M2-4 to early 2022 and Meteor-M2-5 to the first half of 2023. Then Roscosmos changed the launch of Meteor M2-3 to 2023, possibly in February 2023, then March os 2023, then June, and as of 04-18-2023, a date of July 28th has been set.. But, Russia is not very transparent with the launch schedule of unmanned rockets. And they have an obligation first for manned flights. Interestingly enough in my search for information, I contacted a private space tourist company that offers ground tours for rocket launch viewing in Russia, they could not give me a date for the Fregat Launch of Meteor M2-3, just telling me, “it will launch when the rubles say it will”.
Rossiya Segodnya Press stated in an article in August 2022, “Spacecraft numbered 3 and 4 should be launched in 2023, the fifth – in 2024, and the sixth – in 2025. Next, launches of new-generation Meteor-MP spacecraft should begin.” (The new MP spacecraft will not have LRPT)
Russian officials promised to orbit as many as four Meteor-M satellites by 2015, but these plans have been delayed by years. Meteor-M No. 2-3 satellite, which was custom-designed to observe oceans with a high-resolution phased-array radar has been in storage since 2016.