Photo taken on April 28, 2016 shows the launch of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with three small satellites -- Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 from the newly built Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far Eastern Amur region. (Xinhua/Sputnik)
MOSCOW, July 14 (Xinhua) -- A Russian Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle successfully delivered record-breaking 73 satellites into three different orbits on Friday, Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos said.
The launcher, carrying an Earth observation Kanopus-V-IK satellite and 72 small satellites, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 09:36 Moscow time (0636 GMT), and a "Fregat" upper stage launched the spacecraft into three orbits before retreating and falling into the Indian Ocean at 18:18 Moscow time (1518 GMT), according to Roscosmos statements.
"72 smallsats make the mission set a record in the number of spacecraft to be injected into several target orbits among smallsats launches ever," the corporation said.
About a dozen of the satellites are for U.S., German, Norwegian, Canadian and Japanese operators, Roscosmos said.
Based on the Soyuz-U series, Russia's Soyuz-2 launcher features advanced engines and up-to-date control and telemetry systems, which can be configured with the Fregat upper stage depending on the mission.
A standard Fregat upper stage was designed by Lavochkin Association to complement various launchers in order to put satellites in different orbits.