Launch News Zenit-3F launch with Elektro-L #2, December 11, 2015

Cosmic Penguin

Geek Penguin in GTO
News Reporter
Jan 27, 2011
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Hong Kong
Right as one pencil shaped white rocket powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen is gearing up for yet another milestone launch, another is heading into what might be its swansong today.

The Zenit rocket, the most advanced one developed during the Sovier era and one of the most iconic rockets of the world (thanks to Sea Launch), has suffered from reliability issues, faced much more competitive challengers on the market, and political issues between its builders. Earlier hopes of finding it a place in the launch service market has been dashed, and with it just celebrating its 30th anniversary of first flight, the future of one of the world's important rocket looks very grim.

In fact, with only 3 assigned flights left and 2 of them in uncertain status, today's Zenit launch may well be its 83rd and last.

Flying on it today from pad 45/1 in Baikonur (first use of the pad since August 2013) is Russia's newest weather satellite in geostationary orbit. Elektro-L #2 is a replacement for the similar Elektro-L #1 launched in January 2011, which has suffered from instrument problems and has been mostly unable to perform its major tasks. This satellite uses the same platform as the Spektr-R radio astronomy observatory and the ill-fated Phobos-Grunt, and seems to be the source of problems with #1. Hopefully developer Lavochikin can iron out the issues by now, or else they might face a grim future as well!

Good luck and godspeed! :salute:




Launch location:

Baikonur Launch pad no. 45/1 45°56'35.87"N, 63°39'10.83"E


Launch dates and times:

{colsp=6}Launch times

Time Zone |
Australia - Sydney/AEDT
Baikonur / UTC+6
Moscow / MSK/
Universal / UTC
Washington / EST
Launch time (Primary):
Dec. 11, 2015
Dec. 11, 2015
Dec. 11, 2015
Dec. 11, 2015
Dec. 11, 2015

[highlight][eventTimer]2015-12-11 13:45:33?before|after;%dd% Days %hh% Hours %mm% Minutes %ss% Seconds %c%[/eventTimer] Elektro-L #2 Launch[/highlight]​

Live Coverage Of The Launch:


Elektro-L #2 meteorology satellite:


Spacecraft Overview

Elektro-L is a second generation geostationary weather monitoring spacecraft, built and operated by Russia.

The spacecraft is designed to have modular composition. It consists of Service Systems Module and Payload Module. The former is represented by Navigator universal bus, which is developed by Lavochkin Space for use as a core in various spacecraft, such as Spektr series orbiting observatories.

Mass of the spacecraft in operational mode is about 1500 kg. Its effective lifetime should be no shorter than 10 years.

Electro-L is designed as an elevated operational compatibility spacecraft. When assembling and electric tests of the spacecraft are done at Lavochkin Centre, the satellite is delivered to a cosmodrome virtually ready to fly. This technology allows for significant cost savings on launch preparatory works.

Parameter | Value
Working Orbit:​
Orbital Location:​
| 77.8° East
| Indo-Pacific hemisphere of Earth
ApA at separation:​
| 35793 km
PeA at separation:​
| 35429.4 km
Inc at separation:​
| 0.5°

Elektro-L #2
Parts diagram:​
  • Russian RosHydroMet Weather and Environmental Monitoring Agency
Prime contractor:​
  • Lavochkin Association (NPO)
  • Navigator
Mass at Separation:​
  • 1855 kg
Dry Mass:​
  • 1591 kg
  • 3 axis stabilized
  • ?
  • ?
Primary Meteorology Payload:​
|MSU-GS (Multispectral Imager)
  • Working conditions: Sun elevation 10-90°, albedo 0.07-0.9, object contrast 0.2-0.7
  • Imaging zone angular width: 20°x20°
  • Observed spectrum bands: 10, ranging fro, 0.5 to 12.5 mkm (see band breakdown below)
Band #|Wavelengths (mkm)|Singal/Noise ratio or bolometric resolution|Usage
1,2|0.5 – 0.65,0.65 – 0.8|>10|Cloud observations, tracer cloud tracking for wind direction determination, aerosol observations
3|0.8 - 0.9|>7|Watching clouds of small sizes
4|3.5 - 4.01|<0.35°K|Detecting low clouds, night ocean and land temperature
5|5.7 - 7.0 |<0.75°K|Water vapour watching, wind determination, semi-transparent clouds
6,7|7.5 – 8.5, 8.2 - 9.2|<0.28°K|Observations of semi-transparent layered clouds
8|9.2 - 10.2|<1.5°K|Monitoring of Ozone concentration, wind in low stratosphere
9,10|10.2 - 11.2,11.2 - 12.5|<0.3°K|Ocean and land temperature determination, amount of precipitation over oceans
  • Per pixel resultion in nadir: channels 1-3 (visible light) no more than 1 km/pix; channels 4-10 (IR light) no more 4 km/pix.
  • Pixels per scan line for 0.5-0.8 mkm bands: 12 576
  • Pixels per scan line for 3.5-12.5 mkm bands: 3 144
  • Scans in one frame: 34
  • Range of measured temperatures, K: 220 - 340
  • Time to obtain one frame, at 0.5-0.8 mkm: <= 15 mins
  • Time to obtain one frame, at 3.5-12.8 mkm: <= 2 mins
  • Full information output bitrate, kbit/s: 3150 - 4000
  • Working mode: session-like, with one session in 30 mins in standard and once in 15 mins in emergency mode
  • Powering up time: 5 minutes
  • Imaging method: mirror at discrete steps
  • Power consumption, W: <= 200
  • Instrument dimensions, mm: 875 х 520 х 450
  • Instrument mass, kg: <= 88
Space Weather Payload:​
|GGAK-E (Space Environment Prober) provides the following measurements:
  • Integral Solar Constant in energy range 0.2 - 100.0 mkm
  • Differential Energy Spectrae of electrons and protons in energy range 0.05 - 20.0 kEv
  • Electron flux density in ranges: 0.03, 0.1-0.7, 2.0-4.0, 6.0; > 6.0 MEv
  • Proton flux density in ranges: 0.5, 3.0-10.0, 30.0, 50.0, 100.0, 300.0; >300.0, >600.0 MEv
  • Soft X-Ray Solar radiation intensity in range 3.0-10.0 kEv
  • UV Solar radiation intencity in resonance line HL-alpha (121.6 nm)
  • Triple-orthogonal axes magnetometry (up to 300.0 nT)
Information Payload:​
|BSSD is an onboard data processing system with the following functions:
  • Accumulation of data from MSU-GS
  • Accumulation of data from GGAK-E
  • Accumulation of operational information from spacecraft systems
  • Storage of the data
  • Replaying and transformation of the data for transmitting over the radio link
Radio Communication Assembly:​
|Provides for the following functions:
  • Downlinking imagery information over 7.5 GHz band at 15.26 Mbit/s (single-band phase modulation)
  • Downlinking space environment readings over 1.7 GHz band at 2500 bit/s
  • Uplinking meteo information from autonomous surface platforms over 401-403 MHz band, from LEO satellites at 470 MHz, and their downlinking over 1.7 GHz band in phase modulated form.
  • Relaying processed Hydrometeorology and Space Weather data (in HRIT, LRIT messages over 8.2 GHz uplink / 1.7 GHz downlink; in plain form at 15.36 Mbit/s over 8.2 GHz uplink / 7.5 GHz downlink)
  • SARSAT distress calls relaying (over 406 MHz uplink, 1.54 GHz downlink)
  • Uplinking and downlinking at 8.2 and 7.5 GHz are carried out via targetable high-gain antennae.
Life time:​
  • 10 years


Launch Vehicle:


Zenit-3SLБФ (or Zenit-3F) / Fregat-SB
Prime contractor:​
  • Yuzhmash (A.M. Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant) - Ukraine
GRAU Index:​
  • 11K77
| 58.7 m with upper stage and payload fairing (figure is for Z-3SLБ)
| max 4.1 m

Liftoff mass:​
| 473 metric tonnes (figure is for Z-3SLБ)
Payload mass:​
| ~13.7 tonnes at LEO

1st stage:​
  • 1 X RD-171 engine
  • Empty 33.9 tonnes
  • Propellants 318.8 tonnes (RG-1 Kerosene and LOX)
  • Thrust in vacuum 7 908 kN
  • Thrust at sea level 7 259 kN
2nd stage:​
  • 1 X RD-120 engine + 1 X RD-8 vernier engine
  • Empty 9.3 tonnes
  • Propellants 80.6 tonnes (RG-1 Kerosene and LOX)
  • Thrust in vacuum 834 + 78 kN
Upper Stage:​
  • GRAU Index: -
  • Common Name: Fregat-SB (meaning Frigate)
  • Designer & Manufacturer: Lavochkin Association (NPO)
  • Dimensions: Length 2.4 m, Diameter (max) 3.875 m
  • Empty Mass 1.05 tonnes
  • APT Empty Mass 360 kg
  • Propellants 7100 kg max
  • Main Engine: 1 X S5.92
  • Thrust in vacuum 2.0 tonnes of force (full power)
  • Thrust in vacuum 1.4 tonnes of force (small power)
  • ISP 333.2 s
Payload Fairing:​
  • Diameter 4.1 m
  • Length 10.4 m

The vehicle's reliability statistics according to

Vehicle     Successes/Tries Realzd Pred  Consc. Last     Dates    
                             Rate  Rate* Succes Fail    
Zenit 3F/FregatSB  2     2   1.00  .75      2    None     2011-

Elektro-L Ascent Profile

Orbit #|Orbit Nature|Perigee h, km|Apogee H, km|Inclination
4|Target GEO|35424.9|35793|0.5°


Elektro-L #2 Ascent Timeline

Event|Time rel lift-off|Time UTC|Comment
1st/2nd Stage Separation|00:02:25|13:47:58|
Payload Fairing Separation|00:05:17|13:50:50|
2nd stage Shutdown|00:08:34|13:54:07|
2nd Stage/Fregat Separation|00:08:35|13:54:08|
Fregat 1st Burn Ignition|01:14:34|15:00:07|
1st Burn Shutdown|01:22:59|15:08:32|1st Burn's Duration 00:08:25
APT Jettison|01:23:36|15:09:09|
2nd Burn Ignition|03:26:17|17:11:50|
2nd Burn Shutdown|03:37:15|17:22:48|2nd Burn's Duration 00:10:58
3rd Burn Ignition|08:46:35|22:32:08|
3rd Burn Shutdown|08:55:23|22:40:56|3rd Burn's Duration 00:08:48
Spacecraft Separation|08:57:53|22:43:26|

Weather forecast for Baikonur, Kazakhstan on December 11, 2015 (7 p.m.)

Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low -4C. Winds SW at 10 to 15 km/h.

Time|Temps|Dew Point|Relative Humidity|Precip|Snow|Cloud cover|Pressure|Wind|Weather
7 PM|1°C|-3°C|77%|3%|0%|84%|1037 hPa|11 km/h SW|

Last edited:

Cosmic Penguin

Geek Penguin in GTO
News Reporter
Jan 27, 2011
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Hong Kong

So far, so good. One more Fregat burn into geostationary orbit left.

The iconic deep roar of the RD-171 and acceleration that can beat most SRB powered rockets just with one kerosene powered engine are what I'll miss most when the Zenit rocket ends up into history, which might have already happened. There's another Zenit rocket in Baikonur assigned to launch the joint Russian-German Spektr-RG X-ray astronomy observatory in 2017, but the probe is reported to be overweight and may require a switch to the Proton (and some reports mention that this Zenit rocket might be beyond its best before date, though sources differ on this). A third Zenit rocket is still in Ukraine, minus engines and flight computers, that would have launched Lybid', the first Ukrainian communication satellite, but the Russian built satellite is now (obviously) in a zombie state right now. So, well, this could be it for our pencil rocket. :(
Last edited:


Fazanavard فضانورد
Apr 5, 2015
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Thai blogger spots Zenit 3SLBF rocket entering atmosphere

According to National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand.

December 11, 2015

A weather satellite to help civilian and military forecasters track storm systems over Russia’s vast territory launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Friday aboard a Ukrainian-built Zenit rocket, perhaps on its final flight as Russian-Ukrainian relations sour and demand wanes for the 1980s-era launcher.

The Elektro-L 2 weather satellite, enclosed inside the Zenit rocket’s nose shroud, is beginning a 10-year mission to collect near-realtime images of weather systems from Europe to the Asia-Pacific, joining an international fleet of geostationary weather satellites owned by the United States, Europe, India, China and Japan.

In the final seconds of the countdown, the Zenit’s first stage RD-171 engine fired up with a flash of green-orange flame, powering up to full thrust and powering the rocket off the launch pad at 1345:33 GMT (8:45:33 a.m. EST), or 7:45 p.m. local time in Kazakhstan.

Separation of the Elektro-L 2 weather satellite was scheduled for 2243 GMT (5:43 p.m. EST) Friday, according to a timeline released by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

[ame=""]วัตถุตกจากฟ้าคล้ายดาวตก ที่พิษณุโลกเช้านี้ อำเภอเน - YouTube[/ame]

6 Jan 2016

The source was the re-entry of 2015-074C / 41107, the second stage of the Zenit-2SB rocket that was observed to decay over Thailand on 2016 Jan 01 near 23:35 UTC (Saturday, Jan 02, 06:35 local time), per Marco Langbroek's post of Jan 2. Empty mass was 8,900 kg.


Mysterious metal balls found in Vietnam may be space debris: officials

January 05, 2016

Officials from the defense ministry say three strange objects discovered in northern Vietnam last weekend are most likely space debris.
The spheres, weighing 250 grams, six kilos and 45 kilos, were found at three separate locations in the northern provinces of Yen Bai and Tuyen Quang last Saturday. They had reportedly fallen from space.
Initial investigations from the Ministry of Defense found that the objects could have been made in Russia and come from missiles or spaceships. They could have been used as compressed air equipment.
None of the objects were explosive devices, added officials.
Authorities said they will report the incidents to the Council of National Defense and Security, adding that space debris must be dealt with properly to avoid possibilities of accidents.
Witnesses said they saw the first sphere, around six kilos in weight, flying at around 6:30 a.m. before it crashed down on a garden in Yen Bai Province. They said there was a loud noise which prompted them to run away.

The second sphere of 250 grams fell on the roof of a house around three kilometers away, before landing on the floor.
The last object, weighing around 45 kilos, landed near a stream in the neighboring province of Tuyen Quang.
Many locals reported to have heard several thunder-like noises from the sky just minutes before the objects were discovered.


This six-kilogram sphere is reportedly found in a garden in Yen Bai Province.


Local man Dang Van Canh shows a six-kilogram sphere he has discovered in Yen Bai Province.


The last object, weighing around 45 kilos, has been found in a garden in Tuyen Quang Province.