TrailBlazer Electra I Electra II
Test Article Spacecraft Mission Launch
Dnepr Launch Vehicle, courtesy Kosmotras ISC Dnepr Launch, courtesy of Kosmotras ISC

TrailBlazer will be launched on the Dnepr rocket, along with several other payloads. The Dnepr is produced by ISC Kosmotras, a joint cooperative venture between the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and several other countries. It is a conversion of the SS-18 ICBM (of the former USSR), the most powerful ICBM (InterContinental Ballistic Missile) ever built and can lift almost four metric tons into Low-Earth-Orbit. These missiles were scheduled for destruction under the START treaty, and under the treaty, 150 of the missiles can be converted into launch vehicles.

The Dnepr is launched out of Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Khazakstan (see also the U.S. State Department brief). At the Cosmodrome, the warheads are removed from the SS-18 missiles and replaced by spaceheads containing the payloads, then the rocket is launched from a special silo that has been adapted for commercial launches.

For further information on the Baikonur launch site, please visit Russian Space, a source of much information about the space program in Russia and the former USSR.

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