PLESETSK COSMODROME, RUSSIA – In final ever launch of a Rokot launch vehicle, Russia placed three Gonets-M satellites in low-earth orbit. The launch occurred at 2:11 am local time (6:11 pm EST). The Gonets-M is a civilian satellite designed for point to point delivery of medical information to remote locations.
The Rokot launch vehicle was a reuse of decommissioned Soviet-era missile system. The vehicle was intended as an anti-satellite ballistic carrier capable of destroying a satellite in geostationary orbit, 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above the equator. The Rokot system conducted 33 launches since 1994, with 30 successful missions, 2 failures, and 1 partial failure. The cost for launch at the time of retirement was approximately $43 million, with a payload size limit of 2.5m. The initial launches of Rokot were conducted from underground silos, with an older pad from the decommissioned Kosmos family of rockets being repurposed for Rokot. Rokot launches were unique in that they were launched from a canister, even when being launched above ground.