Dauria Aerospace, one of Russia’s first private space startups, is preparing to launch two of its satellites into space on the morning of July 14.

The cluster of smallsats has already been integrated with the upper stage of the Fregat at Baikonur. Photo: Glavkosmos.

The MKA-N 6U imaging CubeSats (miniature satellites made up of multiple cubic units) were built for Roscosmos, Russia’s state space corporation, and will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as part of a secondary payload consisting of 72 small satellites (smallsats) accompanying the primary payload, Roscosmos’ Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite.

This is both a first for Russia – the first ever launch in Russia of satellites commissioned by the state and built by a private company, Dauria – and a global record: the cluster of 72 smallsats is the biggest number of international smallsats to be launched into several target orbits during one mission.

The Kanopus-V-IK primary payload and smallsats will be separated into three different orbits followed by the upper stage deorbit. The smallsats have already been integrated with the Fregat’s upper stage at Baikonur, Vsevolod Kryukovsky, the launch programme director at Glavkosmos, a daughter company of Roscosmos that coordinates international space projects, told Sk.ru. The mission duration from the launch vehicle lift-off will be more than eight hours. 

This will be the first ever launch in Russia of satellites commissioned by the state (Roscosmos) and built by a private company, Dauria. 

Dauria, which makes nano- and small-class satellites, won a state contract worth 310 million rubles ($5.1 million at current exchange rates) to build the two MKA-N satellites back in 2012, making it the first private space company to sign a partnership agreement with Roscosmos. The company’s MKA-N medium resolution earth observation satellites provide the same functions as large remote-sensing satellites, but are significantly smaller and lighter, weighing about 10 kilograms. They are equipped with a triple-axle stabilisation and orientation system, which makes it possible to direct the satellite’s camera at the required sites on the Earth’s surface with a high degree of precision. 

Three of Dauria’s satellites – two Perseus-M nanosatellites and a DX-1 microsatellite – are already operating in orbit. Friday’s launch is the third space launch of satellites developed and built by companies affiliated with the Skolkovo Foundation: in 2014, Skolkovo space cluster resident Sputnix launched Russia’s first private remote sensing microsatellite, the Tablesat-Aurora.  

The smallsat cluster being launched on July 14 also includes microsats from German, Japanese, Norwegian and Canadian companies, and CubeSats made by U.S. companies and three Russian universities.

Visitors to the MAKS international aviation and space salon, which runs from July 18-23 in the city of Zhukovsky in the Moscow region, will be able to see models of the Dauria satellites that are being sent into space on July 14 at the Skolkovo Foundation’s joint stand, presented together with the Moscow government under the brand Made in Moscow.