Vostochny is in business! Also, India’s IRNSS is complete

Two launches this morning on the other side of the world!

First, in Russia’s remote Amur region in eastern Siberia, their new Vostochny Cosmodrome has beaten the scandals and delays and the many years of debate about where to put it and how to fund it, and has received its first baptism of fire, placing a trio of civilian satellites into orbit aboard a Soyuz 2.1a.  The three payloads include Mikhailo Lomonosov, a gamma-ray observatory operated by the Lomonosov Moscow State University; Aist-2D, an earth-observing satellite operated by Samara State Aerospace University, and a CubeSat named SamSat 218 built and operated by Samara State Aerospace University students.

Then, to the southeast of Vostochny, at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, the workhorse PSLV rocket racked up another success by placing the final element of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) into orbit.  With this final element in place, the constellation has been officially named “Navic”.  IRNSS-1G is not yet in service; like all satellites, it will undergo a period of on-orbit testing before commissioning.  Navic is only a seven-element constellation, but as India only aims to supply regional navigation services, this is sufficient.  By contrast, systems such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo are intended to be used globally.

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