Russia’s space chief cannot seem to get “gentle” SpaceX out of his mind

 Russia’s space chief cannot seem to get “gentle” SpaceX out of his mind

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Roscosmos specialists recover the "Blok A" stage of the Soyuz rocket from Yakutia.

Enlarge / Roscosmos specialists recover the “Blok A” stage of the Soyuz rocket from Yakutia. (credit: Dmitry Rogozin/Twitter)

On Friday, a Soyuz 2.1b rocket launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, carrying its payload of 36 OneWeb satellites into space. Although Russia’s newest spaceport is located in the far eastern part of the country, it still lies several hundred kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

This means that as Soyuz rockets climb into space from this location, they drop their stages onto the sparsely populated Yakutia region below. With the Soyuz rocket, there are four boosters that serve as the rocket’s “first stage,” and these drop away about two minutes after liftoff. Then, the “Blok A” second stage drops away later in the flight.

Although the Yakutia region is geographically rugged and sparsely populated, the Russian government does a reasonably good job of establishing drop zones for these stages and keeping them away from residential areas. This is what happened, as usual, with Friday’s launch.

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