ISS-65 mission


ISS crew:

Commander -
Tomas Pesquet

Flight engineers:
leg Novitskiy
Petr Dubrov
Mark Vande Hei
Robert Shane Kimbrough
Megan McArthur
Akihiko Hoshide
Anton Shkaplerov
Yulia Peresild
Klim Shipenko



Roscosmos: Spektr-RG is in orbit

July 15, 2019

Successfully launched from the Launch Pad No.81 of the Baikonur launch site on July 13, 2019 at 15:30:57 Moscow Time was a launch vehicle Proton-M with the upper stage Block DM-03 and space-based astrophysical observatory Spektr-RG. The launch and the flight went without any problems. That was the second launch of the launch vehicle of this type in 2019.

Two hours later, at 17:30 Moscow Time, the spacecraft separated from the upper stage Block DM-03 and the orbital observatory began its 100-day transit to the vicinity of libration point L2 in the Sun-Earth system, where it will be studying the Universe in the X-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum. All the systems operate normally. Deployment of solar arrays and thermal shield was detected. Tracking of the spacecraft has begun.

There are plans to perform the following operations during the transit: a check of the supporting systems, adjustment, calibration and testing of telescopes, trial tests of astrophysical observations. It is expected that the studies will continue for 6.5 years, out of which 4 years are allotted to scanning the celestial sphere, and 2.5 years to observations focused on specific objects in the Universe.

It is expected that in the course of the sky survey Spektr-RG will discover about 100 000 galactic clusters in the observable Universe, about 3 million accreting super-massive black holes, hundreds of thousands of stars with active coronas and accreting white dwarfs, tens of thousands of star-forming galaxies and many other objects, including those of unknown nature. These data are extremely important for understanding the distribution of matter in the Universe, the role of the dark energy in its development, and the origination and growth of super-massive black holes.

Spacecraft Spektr-RG was developed with German participation within the framework of the Federal Space Program of Russia by order of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The observatory is equipped with two unique X-ray reflecting telescopes: ART-XC (Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia) and eROSITA (MPE, Germany), that operate on the principle of grazing incidence X-ray optics. The telescopes are installed on a Navigator satellite bus (NPO Lavochkin, Russia) that had been adapted to the mission.

The Principal Investigator of the mission is academician Rashid Alievich Syunyaev; the head of research for the telescope ART-XC (Russia) is doctor of physical and mathematical sciences Mikhail Pavlinsky; the head of research for the telescope eROSITA (Germany) is doctor Peter Predel.

The heavy launch vehicle Proton was developed and is serially produced by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.

Taking into account the launch of the observatory Spektr-RG, since the start of operation of the launch vehicle Proton (1965), there have been 419 launches of that rocket in various configurations using different upper stages. Out of these, 106 launches used the upgraded version called Proton-M.

The upper stage Block DM-03 was developed and is manufactured at RSC EnergiaThis is one of the main upper stages made in our country, intended for injecting spacecraft from a low-Earth orbit into high-energy orbits, including the geostationary orbit, high-circular and high-elliptical orbits, as well as trajectories for departure to the Moon and planets of our Solar System.


Photo from Roscosmos