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Rokot Launch Vehicle

The last launches of the Rokot carrier rocket fitted with a Ukrainian-made control system will be carried out in 2019, then the vehicle will be decommissioned, a source in the space industry told Sputnik on 18 December 2018. "In 2019, it is planned to carry out two launches of Rokot [launch vehicle] with Briz-KM upper stages from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, after which the rocket will be decommissioned," the source said. In the first launch scheduled for June-July, Rokot will bring three Gonets-M communication satellites to the orbit, according to the source. Then a Geo-IK geodesy satellite will be delivered to the orbit, he said, adding that the Geo-IK might yet be brought to the orbit before the Gonets-M satellites. In August 2018, Russia's space agency Roscosmos announced that the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center was developing Rokot-2 carrier rocket with a Russian-made control system. The current model of Rokot carrier rocket is using a Ukrainian-made control system.

The Rokot launch vehicle, developed by the state-run Khrunichev Center, is a modification of the RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) two-stage ballistic missile that were decommissioned from Russiaís Strategic Missile Forces. The rocket is designed to put spacecraft weighing less than two tons into near-earth orbits. Two new additions to the Russian launch vehicle stable came from the conversion of ballistic missiles declared excess following the START arms control agreements. The Start and Rokot launch vehicles are derived from the RS-12M (NATO designator SS-25) and RS-18 (NATO designator SS-19), respectively, and both flew maiden orbital missions during 1993-1994.

Debuting in late 1994, the Rokot launch vehicle was developed by the Salyut Design Bureau of the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center. By adding a new liquid propellant third stage Briz (Breeze) to the two stage RS-18 ICBM, Russian aerospace engineers created a 2.5 m diameter, 24.6 m tallspace launch vehicle with a LEO payload capacity of nearly 1.9 metric tons. All three stages burn UDMH and N204.

Following two sub-orbital missions (20 November 1990 and 20 December 1991), Rokot finally launched an amateur radio satellite, Radio-ROSTO, into an orbit of 1,884 km by 2,161 km with an inclination of 64.8 degrees on 26 December 1994. Although the satellite deployment portion of the mission was successful, the Rokot third stage exploded a few hours after launch. This initial Rokot space mission originated from a silo at the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Site 175), but regular flights were envisioned from the Kosmos-3M facilities at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome starting in 1997 or from silos at the proposed Svobodnyy Cosmodrome as early as 1996. (References 217-228).

The first launch of the rocket from the Plesetsk space center took place May 16, 2000. All launches of Rokots were suspended in January 2013 after the rocketís Briz-KM booster failed to deliver three military satellites into their designated orbits, resulting in the loss of one of the satellites.

The German company Daimler-Benz Aerospace teamed with Khrunichev to market Rokot commercially under the Eurockot Launch Services GmbH of Bremen. Eurockot Launch Services GmbH is the Bremen, Germany, based joint venture of EADS Astrium and Khrunichev Space Center and performs launches of satellites into Low Earth Orbits (LEO) for institutional and commercial satellite operators.

Rockot launches are performed from dedicated launch facilities at Plesetsk Cosmodrome where Eurockot has made a substantial financial investment. This investment not only allows for the provision of high quality facilities by Eurockot in Plesetsk but also helps mitigate the decay of existing infrastructure due to lack of investment and therefore helps maintain the reliability of the Rockot launch system.

Eurockot performed the first launch of its designated Rockot-KM launch vehicle at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia in May 2000 following substantial investment by Astrium and Khrunichev into the development of the launcher and the launch site. Since then Rockot has established a successful launch heritage for customers in the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Korea and Japan. Eurockot has become one of the leading launch providers for climate research, remote sensing and science satellites requiring high inclination and sun-synchronous orbits. Eurockot offers comprehensive logistical and customer services in Russia as part of the launch contracts with its customers and has already been awarded repeat orders. The availability of the Rockot-KM launch vehicle is secured until at least 2020.

Russia's Space Forces launched a Rokot carrier rocket with a military spacecraft from the Plesetsk space centre in the north of the country, the Defence Ministry said. "All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Rokot space rocket were successful. The ground assets of the Space Forces carried out control over the launch and the flight of the launch vehicle", the ministry said 30 August 2019. The military satellite, launched on board the Rokot carrier rocket earlier on 30 August, successfully reached the designated near-Earth orbit, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

The Russian Defence Ministry has carried out the last launch of the Rokot space rocket and terminated the operation of these outdated launch vehicles due to plans to switch to the use of modernised rockets of this type, the chief of Plesetsk space centre in northern Russia, Maj. Gen. Nikolai Nestechuk told reporters. "One more launch is planned in the interests of [Russian State Space Corporation] Roscosmos", he said. In August last year, Russia's Roscosmos State Space Corporation reported that Khrunichev Center, which is part of Roscosmos, was developing the Rokot-2 rocket with the Russian-made control system. At present, the first edition of the Rokot launch vehicle uses the Ukrainian control system.


Background Information
First Launch:
December 1994
Flight Rate:
15 per year advertised
Launch Site:
Baikonur, Kazakhstan
4,400 lb to LEO (advertised)
154 lb to LEO (Demonstrated)


  • Originated as the SS-19 two stage ICBM developed by the Chelomei Design Bureau in the 1970's
  • Converted to a space launch vehicle in 1994 by the Khrunichev State Space Research Center with the addition of a third stage for orbital insertion
  • Marketed internationally by the German Space Agency (DARA) as a commercial launch vehicle for small satellites


  • Three-stage rocket
  • Stage 1 and stage 2 from SS-19 "Stiletto" ICBM are liquid fueled burning N2O2 and UDMH
  • Stage 3 developed by the Khrunichev State Space Research Center (details unavailable)


>197 ft
Launch Weight:
>198,000 lb
8.2 ft
Liftoff Thrust:
>300,000 lb


  • 217. Rockot Launch Vehicle, technical brochure distributed by Salyut Design Bureau, 1993.
  • 218. Krasnaya Zvezda, 23 January 1992, p. 4.
  • 219. Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 22 January 1992, p. 3.
  • 220. Izvestlya, 21 January 1992.
  • 221. Komsomolskaya Pravda, 3 April 1993, pp. 1, 6.
  • 222. Rockot Launch Vehicle, technical brochure distributed by Khrunichev State Space Scientific Production Center, Moscow, 1995.
  • 223. Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 17-31 December 1994, pp. 23-24.
  • 224. I. Matveyeva and R. Prokolov, Kommersant Daily, 3 June 1994, p. 1.
  • 225. "Germany, Russ Might Bend Rules of Road", Military Space, 19 September 1994, p. 5.
  • 226. "New Russian Launcher Tested", Spaceflight, May 1992, p. 146.
  • 227. P.B. de Selding, "Rockot Launcher To Go Commercial", Space News, 20-26 February 1995, pp. 3, 6.
  • 228. P.B. de Selding, "Rockot Venture Pursues Plan To Repay Russian Debts., Space News, 12-18 June 1995,
  • Adapted from: Europe and Asia in Space 1993-1994, Nicholas Johnson and David Rodvold [Kaman Sciences / Air Force Phillips Laboratory]

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Page last modified: 30-08-2019 15:09:01 ZULU