Ukrainian launch vehicle Dnipro has put into orbit in one go a spacecraft belonging to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), nanosatellites of 22 more countries, and a Ukrainian-made perspective avionics unit. It took off from Yasny launch site in Russia. Dnipropetrovsk plant Pivdenmash produced this rocket in cooperation with Russian companies, it being a conversion of the SS-29 Voyevoda intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The conversion involves replacing the missiles’ nuclear warheads with satellite payloads after their service lives ended in accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. This time, the launch vehicle’s main payload was the DubaiSat-2 spacecraft, developed by the Advanced Technology Institute of the UAE. It is designed for remote sensing of the Earth’s surface which it will observe from an altitude of 600 kilometers for the next five years.
The rocket has also put into orbit nanosatellites from 14 countries: the US, Korea, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Singapore, Germany, South Africa, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain, Japan, Poland, and Denmark. These include research, educational, and communications satellites, created to conduct astronomical observations, Earth surface images transmission, and measurements of gamma radiation polarization, test equipment and monitor Arctic waters.
Ukraine, the rocket-maker’s native country, contributed a prospective avionics unit to this bunch of satellites. “This is a domestically-made experimental equipment system intended for use in navigation of spacecraft and launch vehicles,” explained the press officer of Dnipropetrovsk-based Pivdenne Design Bureau, Ukraine’s chief developer of space technology. Overall, the conversion program “Dnipro” has seen 19 rockets launched, and 86 spacecraft from 25 nations put into orbit.