And there was another launch on January 31! In Russia, at Vostochny Cosmodrome, on a beautiful, clear winter day, a Soyuz 2 began the climb to orbit:
The Vostochny Cosmodrome was long plagued with delays and corruption, and even after finally being completed after the personal intervention of Vladimir Putin, has struggled to ramp up to where it can start actually relieving Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Angara rocket that was planned to fly from there has been plagued by its own delays, and so it was inaugurated with Soyuz 2. That inaugural flight, on April 28, 2016, successfully carried a gamma-ray space telescope dubbed Mikhailo Lomonosov, while the dropped boosters from the Soyuz fell on Russian territory and were retrieved for engineering analysis. But there were no further flights until November 28 of last year, and that one ended in an embarrassing failure: a Meteor-M weather satellite was lost because the Fregat upper stage had been programmed with a course that would have made sense from Baikonur Cosmodrome, but which left it fatally short of velocity when climbing from Vostochny, which is higher latitude.
But Vostochny this week made an important step past that with the successful launch of eleven satellites aboard a Soyuz 2 rocket with a correctly programmed Fregat upper stage. The primary payloads were Kanopus-V3 and Kanopus-V4, disaster monitoring satellites for the Russian government, and there were also 9 nanosatellites from Germany and the US. These include four more Lemurs for Spire Global, which saw two other launches on completely different vehicles over the last three weeks (including the Electron launch), four experimental inter-satellite communications satellites from the University of Berlin, and D-Star One Phoenix from German Orbital Systems (Berlin) and iSky Technology (Czechia). D-Star One Phoenix replaces the original D-Star One, which was lost aboard the last launch out of Vostochny. This illustrates one of the great advantages of nanosatellites — they are so small and relatively inexpensive that replacements can often be obtained quickly.