MOSCOW – Russia successfully launched on Tuesday a Soyuz-2.1b rocket to put a Meteor-M satellite into orbit from Vostochny Cosmodrome, its new spaceport located in the eastern part of the country.
The launch, which was the second one from Vostochny since it was inaugurated last year, took place at 8:41 am Moscow time (0541 GMT), according to local media.
Besides Meteor-M – a remote Earth-sensing satellite – the Soyuz rocket also launched 18 other smaller satellites.
Vostochny, located in Amur Oblast, near Russia’s border with China, could become the launch pad for various modules of Russia’s new lunar program, whose objective is to reach the moon by 2029.
The Cosmodrome, with a surface area of 700 square kilometers (around 270 square miles), was constructed to ease the burden of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and guarantee Russia’s independence in fulfilling its space program ambitions.
Russian space agency Roscosmos plans to carry out six launches per year from Vostochny from 2018 onwards.