On November 8, 2004, Russia successfully launched the first Souyz-2 space launcher. The launch was performed from the launch pad No. 4 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk launch site at 21:30 MSK (18:30 UTC). The launch was performed jointly by launch crews of the Space Forces and of the Samara “TsSKB-Progress” Missile and Space Center, which is the producer of the launcher.
The new launcher is a modernization of the Soyuz launcher of the R-7 family of launchers. The November 8th launch was a test of the Soyuz-2-1a modification. To this point, completed upgrades included replacing the old guidance system with a digital one and development of a new payload fairing (which wasn't used in the first flight). The next modification of the launcher, Soyuz-2-1b, scheduled to fly in 2006, will be equipped with a new third-stage engine.
The launcher carried an old Oblik spacecraft as a payload. The spacecraft was built as an optical reconnaissance satellite, but by the time of the launch it was past its service life. During the launch it was used as a mass mockup and a platform for collecting information about the rocket engine performance. The spacecraft was successfully deployed on a ballistic trajectory at 21:38 MSK and reentered over the Pacific before making its first revolution.
The launch was originally scheduled on October 29th, 2004, but was postponed several times for technical reasons – first to 16:30 MSK on November 6th, then to 16:30 MSK on November 8th, and after that – to 21:30 MSK on November 8th.