May 22, 2009

Russia puts military satellite into orbit

A Soyuz-2 rocket Friday carried a military communication satellite into orbit from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, launch officials said.

A steady communication link has been established with the spacecraft. All on-board systems are performing normally, Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.

The Meridian 2 satellite primarily will be used for Russian military communications, though it also will be of commercial use for civilian services, such as navigation, RIA Novosti reported.

The Soyuz-2 is an advanced version of the Soyuz rocket used in Russia's space program since the 1960s. Compared with the original rocket, the Soyuz-2 has a higher payload capacity, a higher performance rating and superior flight control and telemetry systems.