Dnepr Successfully Launches 33 Small Satellites

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PARIS — A Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr silo-launched rocket on June 19 successfully deployed 33 satellites ranging in size from several hundred kilograms to less than 5 kilograms each into low Earth orbit, Dnepr operator ISC Kosmotras of Moscow said June 20.

Not all the owners had reported on the health of their spacecraft by press time. But three of the larger customers — Elecnor Deimos of Spain, Planet Labs of San Francisco and Surrey Satellite Technology of Britain — said their satellites were healthy in orbit.

Operating from the Yasny spaceport in southern Russia, the Dnepr rocket, which is a converted ballistic missile whose launches are managed by the Russian Space Forces, conducted its second multisatellite, multicustomer mission in seven months. The vehicle launched 32 satellites in November.

The June 19 launch, for 17 nations, included the 300-kilogram Deimos 2 satellite for Spain’s Deimos, a company moving from medium-resolution to high-resolution imaging satellites as a way of staying viable as European governments prepare to flood the market with free medium-resolution data collected as part of Europe’s Copernicus environment-monitoring program. Deimos said its satellite was healthy and in the proper orbit.

Deimos 2, designed by Satrec Initiative of South Korea, is capable of detecting objects as small as 75 centimeters in diameter. Its imager has a 12-kilometer swath width. Deimos is using Deimos 2 as a showcase for what the company can offer as it competes for export orders, especially in South America.

Also onboard was the 180-kilogram KazEOSat, a medium-resolution optical Earth imaging satellite built by Surrey Satellite Technology for the government of Kazakhstan. The satellite’s imager has a 77-kilometer swath width and a ground resolution of 6.5 meters.

Planet Labs said the 11 satellites it had on Dnepr, each weighing about 5 kilograms, will join the 28 satellites already in orbit as part of the company’s Flock 1 commercial Earth observation constellation.

 

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Correction: An earlier version of the story had said Planet Labs’ 11 satellites on Dnepr will join the 22 satellites it had already in orbit.