Saturday, December 20, 2014

Russian Strela Rocket Launches Kondor-E Satellite for South Africa

Russia’s Strela carrier rocket blasts off at 04:43 UTC on Dec. 19, 2014 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with a Kondor-E radar imaging satellite. Credit: Roscosmos

Russian Strela carrier rocket blasted off at 04:43 UTC on Friday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with a Kondor-E radar imaging satellite for South Africa. The launch initially was to take place on December 18, but was postponed for technical reasons. The Strela launch vehicle is a Russian orbital launch system capable of lifting light and medium payloads to low Earth orbits. Kondor is a series of small civilian radar Earth observation satellites developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya rocket design bureau for the Russian Defense Ministry and foreign customers.

Strela is based on the UR-100N (RS-18) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, also known as SS-19 Stiletto. Strela is a two-stage liquid-fuelled launch vehicle that uses the SS-19 MIRV-bus to act as third stage (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) to inject its payloads into the desired orbits. The Streal rocket was to be launched in the interests of a foreign customer from site No 175. Strela stands 29.2 meters tall (with its long payload fairing) and has a main diameter of 2.5 metres. The vehicle has a launch mass of 105,000 kg. Strela can deliver payloads of up to 1,700 kg into low Earth orbit and 1,100 kg into Sun synchronous orbit.

The first Kondor satellite was launched into orbit in summer 2013. Satellite imagery can be used for ecological monitoring and to manage natural resources.

Kondor satellites are equipped to carry either synthetic aperture radar or electro-optical imaging payloads.

Satellites for the Russian military are designated Kondor, whilst those for export are designated Kondor-E.


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