July 26, 2008

Russia: Military Satellite Launched By Soyuz-2 Rocket Upgrade

Text of report in English by Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS

Plesetsk, Arkhangelsk Region, 26 July: A modernized Soyuz-2 carrier rocket blasted off from Russia's northern Plesetsk spaceport on Saturday [26 July] to take a Kosmos [also Cosmos] military satellite into orbit. The launch took place at 2231 Moscow time (1831 gmt).

The launch was postponed for a day on Friday for additional checks in the rocket control system of the 1B modernization stage [its full designation Soyuz-2-1B, as reported by other sources].

The Soyuz-2 rocket was designed by the Samara-based TsSKB- Progress design office for the Russian Defence Ministry and the Federal Space Agency. At present, flight tests of Soyuz-2 of the 1A and 1B modernization stages are conducted at the Plesetsk and Baykonur cosmodromes. The main difference between the stages is the use of the RD-0124 engine in the third rocket stage. The engine is designed by the Khimavtomatika design office (Voronezh). One of the Soyuz-2 modifications will be used to launch payloads from the Guiana space centre (Kourou, French Guiana).

The launch weight of the rocket is 311.7 tonnes. It is capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 7,480 kilograms. Components of the propellant are liquid oxygen and kerosene. Compared to the Soyuz, the vehicle can carry a heavier payload to orbits at an altitude of 200 kilometres ( which is 300 kilograms more at the 1A stage and 1,200 kilograms more at the 1B stage), its orbiting zone is wider, and the orbiting of satellites is more accurate. A new digital system of control was created for the rocket.

The Soyuz-2 vehicle of the 1A modernization stage has been launched three times for flight tests: two from Plesetsk and one from Baykonur. One rocket in the 1B stage was launched from the southern cosmodrome. All the launches were successful. The first launch from Plesetsk was on 8 November 2004.

The decision could be made this year to put the Soyuz-2 rocket into operation for the Space Troops in Plesetsk.

Former Space Troops Commander Vladimir Popovkin said on 25 January that the space troops were to conduct five launches for flight tests. Two were carried out, and two launches from Plesetsk were planned for 2008. Taking into account the scheduled launches from Baykonur, the rocket could be put into operation already this year, the general said.

[The satellite, designated Cosmos-2441, is now in orbit, after it successfully separated from the launch vehicle at 2241 Moscow time, Lt-Col Aleksey Zolotukhin, spokesman for the Russian Space Troops, told ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 2042 26 Jul 08.

In a quote in the same report, TsSKB director-general Aleksandr Kirilin said that the launch was "a major accomplishment by the defence industry". The satellite, he said, will operate for five years, "a very long time", and has "very high" performance, Kirilin told journalists, according to the report. "The satellite will work in the mode of remote sensing of the Earth," Kirilin noted. There were no further details in the report.

Meanwhile, Interfax-AVN military news agency website, Moscow, in Russian 1841 gmt 26 Jul 08 said that, "as reported earlier, the military satellite has been built with new technology and will remain active for seven years".

This report also said that the Soyuz-2, based on the Soyuz-U (in service since 1973), can place payloads of up to 8,350 kg in low- Earth circular orbits. In the Soyuz-2, larger nose fairings can be used, up to 4.11 m. diameter and 11.43 m. long.]

Originally published by ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 1919 26 Jul 08.

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