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I was enjoying some 2017 April 13 tweets on robots and reminiscing about shoveling snow after seeing this one, but then I scrolled down further and saw a video of a rocket. It's also here in YouTube, where the information seems to say it is the first launch from Vostochny Cosmodrome.

edit: The time line is not 100% clear - there is dry snow on the ground in the screen shots shown below, but by the time the actual launch happens, there is no snow, nor wet ground where it would have melted recently. The screen shots at the bottom clearly show different weather and different fairing covers - it looks like these are two different days. However, my question is simply about the need for insulation.

Perhaps the screenshots below really represent a "dry run" — testing and preparation for this launch?

It is certainly a "cool" video (manage your volume, there is a sound track) but is the Amur Oblast really colder than (a spacecraft might become when it is in) space? Or have I got it wrong, and the payload is pre-cooled cryogenic and the local ambient is actually too hot?

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    $\begingroup$ "Colder than space": temperature is a property of matter; space has no temperature. Spacecraft thermal management at 1 AU from the sun is more often concerned with getting rid of heat than keeping the craft warm. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Should have double checked the location- these weather data re from an airport called Vostochny which is in the Volga area... $\endgroup$
    – oefe
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ wunderground.com/history/wmo/31445/2016/4/28/… this time for real. A few cold nights, but balmy during the day $\endgroup$
    – oefe
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ The rocket on the cold days had gray lower stages, and a gray ring over the orange ring on the upper stage, while the corresponding areas are white on the launch day. This gray doesn't look like covering. Are we looking at two different rockets? But there was only one launch from Vostochny so far. $\endgroup$
    – oefe
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ The snowy pictures might be from the test phase in March 2016. Highs were below freezing in the first half of March. $\endgroup$
    – oefe
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 16:50

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Starsem, the Euro/Russian company that sells commercial Soyuz launches, calls it a "thermal blanket" and states that it "will be removed during final preparations prior to liftoff". Source

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Since this launch was in February at Baikonur, it's hard to imagine that it would be for cooling the payload...

The Soyuz [booster] User's Manual states that the payload airconditioning system used during this portion of launch preparation (the "VSOTR") maintains the temperature

10 < T° < 25°C ±1°C

It may need a little extra insulation in the winter.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible to address "Or have I got it wrong, and the payload is pre-cooled cryogenic and the local ambient is actually too hot?" with a half-sentence? That would wrap it up (so to speak). Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ I wasn't able to find much on it. Will keep an eye out. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 11:22

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