(ORDO NEWS) — The Soyuz launch vehicle and the Frigate booster block successfully launched a missile launch warning satellite into orbit on Friday.
The Soyuz-2.1b rocket, launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the far north of Russia, launched at 09:31 UTC on Friday and went southeast.
The Russian Ministry of Defense’s statement did not indicate the payload, but the flight path information published in the warning notices for pilots and sailors suggests that the satellite is probably the fourth EKS (Unified Space System) or Tundra, a satellite for detecting missile launches for the Russian military.
The Department of Defense said the spacecraft was put into target orbit, and ground controllers established stable communications with the new satellite. The spacecraft will receive the designation Cosmos 2546, which corresponds to the naming scheme of the Russian government for military satellites.
It was assumed that the satellite would be deployed in elliptical orbit at a distance of about 1,600 km and almost 39,000 km from the Earth’s surface. Tundra satellites fly in orbits inclined approximately 63.8 degrees to the equator.
Russia launched four EKS-class early warning satellites launched on Soyuz / Frigate missiles in November 2015, May 2017 and September 2019. The new generation of EKS satellites replaces the Russian space series Oko, the last of which was launched in 2012.
The upper stage of the Frigate was launched multiple times to place its satellite payload in the target orbit. The spacecraft was separated from the spacecraft tugboat Frigate a few hours after launch.
Russia uses missile attack satellites as well as ground-based radars to track missiles that are approaching a country’s territory. Lightning-type orbits used by EKS satellites have thermal infrared sensors and have a view of the northern hemisphere on each of their 12-hour orbits around the Earth.
Orbits give satellites the ability to detect missile launches from North America and track flying missiles that threaten Russian territory.
Friday’s mission was the seventh flight of the Soyuz rocket this year and the third launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in 2020.
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