Moscow, 29 August 2008. – Having been launched at 11:15 Moscow time from Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Dnepr LV (a converted SS-18 ICBM) successfully injected 5 RapidEye spacecraft into orbit.
The rocket lifted off at 11:15:53 Moscow time (7:15:53 UTC) from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 109. Fifteen minutes later, a mobile tracking station deployed in Oman recorded the signal that confirmed separation of the satellites from the launcher upper stage. The launch mission was fully accomplished – the satellites were delivered into their target 630km Sun-synchronous orbit. The injection was nominal with all systems operating properly.
The RapidEye constellation is comprised of five small Earth-Observation satellites, each with 6.5 metre resolution camera imaging in five optical bands. Each of the five microsatellites is approximately 150 kg in mass. The microsatellites will have a 7-year operational lifetime. Primary applications are agricultural mapping, growth monitoring, damage assessment for insurers, and yield prediction. Secondary application is cartography.
Dr. Vladimir A. Andreev, Director General of ISC Kosmotras, speaking on behalf of the Company, extended his congratulations on the successful launch to the launch customers, namely British SSTL, Canadian MDA and German RapidEye AG. Dr. Andreev expressed satisfaction with the successful and fruitful cooperation between ISC Kosmotras and SSTL, which had commenced during the first Dnepr launch of UOSAT-12 spacecraft in 1999, would continue in the near future under new contracts signed with SSTL.
ISC Kosmotras is grateful to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Federal Space Agency of Russia, National Space Agency of Ukraine, as well as the enterprises and organizations of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for their contribution in the success of the RapidEye launch campaign.