Saturday, June 6, 2015

Russia Puts Military Satellite Kobalt-M into Orbit

Soyuz-2.1a rocket launches Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense

Russian Aerospace Defense Forces successfully launched the Kobalt-M photographic reconnaissance satellite on Friday at 6:24 p.m. Moscow time (11:24 a.m. EST) from the site 43/4 at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. It was the first Soyuz-2.1a rocket launch since the failure of the Progress-M27M mission on Apr. 28. "The spacecraft has been put into the designated orbit. The satellite separated in a routine mode," said a spokesman for Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces, Col. Dmitry Zenin.

The satellite has established communications with ground control and is functioning normally.

"The telemetry link with the satellite has been established and maintained. All on-board systems are performing normally,” Zenin added.

Kobalt-M, also known as Yantar-4K2M is a high-resolution imaging reconnaissance satellite. It consists of a reignitable service module with two solar arrays, a large conical reentry vehicle with the camera and two small spherical reentry vehicles.

The satellite has a launch mass of 6.6 tons and is typically launched into a 105 miles (170 km) by 230 miles (370 km), with the inclination 62.8 – 67.2 degrees toward the Equator. The orbital life time of the spacecraft is up to 130 days. It is believed that Kobalt-M has a ground resolution of 0.98 ft. (0.3 m).

The launch, previously scheduled for May 15, was carried out under the general supervision of the Aerospace Defense Forces Commander, Lt. Gen. Alexander Golovko.

Soyuz-2.1a rocket ready to launch Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense
Soyuz-2.1a rocket ready to launch Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense

The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that after reaching its orbit, the satellite was designated Kosmos-2505.

The first Kobalt-M satellite was launched on Sept. 24, 2004 on a Soyuz-U launch vehicle from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. Designated Kosmos-2410, the Kobalt-M returned to Earth on Jan. 9, 2005, after a 107-day mission. That flight, however, was not entirely successful – the satellite seemed to malfunction during the flight and then was lost after an earlier than planned reentry.

The previous Kobalt-M mission, designated Kosmos-2495 was launched on May 6, 2015. The spacecraft landed on Earth on Sept. 2, 2014 in the Orenburg Region (Russia).

Kobalt-M satellites are developed by TsSKB Progress of Samara and manufactured by OAO Arsenal of St Petersburg.

The Kobalt-M series will be replaced by the electro-optical Persona reconnaissance satellites. The date of the upcoming Persona-3 launch will be determined next week.

Friday’s lift off is a second Soyuz-2.1a rocket launch by Aerospace Defense Forces in Plesetsk this year. In all, three rockets, (2 Soyuz-2, 1 Rokot), have been launched from Plesetsk in 2015.

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