Searching for details:
The author of this page will appreciate comments, corrections and imagery related to the subject. Please contact Anatoly Zak.
Previous chapter: Kanopus
Russia to develop a new-generation radar satellite
On Dec. 17, 2012, Russian space agency, Roskosmos, solicited bids for a tender to develop the radar-carrying Obzor-R remote-sensing satellite. The new-generation spacecraft aimed to replace the Arkon-2M project, which was canceled in 2012. The agency allocated 3,604,800 thousand rubles ($116.3 million) for three years of development work ending on Nov. 25, 2015. Roskosmos put a deadline for the submission of bids for the tender at Jan. 15, 2013, and planned to choose a winner on January 24.
According to the agency's assignment, Obzor-R was to carry an X-band (phased-array) radar for taking images of the Earth surface through cloud cover or fog abstracting the use of optical imaging systems. Roskosmos expected the spacecraft to provide data to civilian agencies for the purposes of cartography, naval navigation, geological applications, exploration of natural resources and for agriculture. The list of tasks clearly emphasized civilian purpose of the spacecraft, however Roskosmos also stressed the possibility for adding other goals as the project developed.
Roskosmos required the satellite to use GLONASS and GPS satellite data and to fit into the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle based in Plesetsk. The satellite would have to be able to deliver imaging data to ground stations within 12 hours after taking the picture. It would have to be able to revisit imaging area within latitudes from 35 to 60 degrees North in no less than two days. During each orbit around the Earth, the spacecraft would have to be able take images during at least 10 minutes. Ground stations receiving data from the satellite would be equipped with antennas sporting 3.6-meter dishes. Only one or two ground stations would be required to control Obzor-R.
The Obzor-R spacecraft would have to be able to operate in orbit for at least five years and have a total operational lifespan of no less than eight years.
In the previous decade, several companies in Russia were working on or proposed radar-carrying satellites. They included NPO Lavochkin, VNIIEM, GKNPTs Khrunichev, NPO Mashinostroenia, KB Arsenal, and RKK Energia. According to industry sources, TsSKB Progress in Samara and KB Arsenal in St. Petersburg ultimately competed in the tender in January 2013. TsSKB Progress won the contract despite a lower price offered by KB Arsenal. At the time, the launch of the Obzor-R spacecraft on the Soyuz-2-1b rocket into a terminator-matching orbit was expected in 2015. The resolution of the satellite was reported to be as high as one meter.
TsSKB Progress earlier started a preliminary development of the radar-carrying satellite originally known as MakSat-R. In March 2012, TsSKB Progress said that a development schedule for the project had been approved, calling for the completion of the preliminary design by May 30. At the time, engineering documentation for the load-bearing structure and solar panels of the satellite was to be completed by the end of June 2012 and for the body of the satellite -- by July 30. It would enable the launch of the spacecraft in 2015. According to NII TP design bureau, the company has been developing radar payload for the Maksat-R satellite since 2009.
Next chapter: Resurs-P
Announced specifications for the Obzor-R satellite:
Writing and photography by Anatoly Zak
Last update: April 10, 2013
All rights reserved
Obzor-R satellite as of 2013. Credit: TsSKB Progress
A possible depiction of Maksat satellite. Credit: NII TP
A Meteor-M satellite with the Severyanin Earth-watching radar. Credit: VNIIEM
The design of the Arkon-2 and Arkon-2M satellites originally proposed by NPO Lavochkin during 2000s. Credit: NPO Lavochkin
A prototype of the Monitor remote-sensing satellite with a radar antenna proposed by GKNPTs Khrunichev. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak
The Sever radar-carrying satellite proposed by KB Arsenal in St. Petersburg to be based on the company's Neva platform. Copyright © 2011 Anatoly Zak
A radar-carrying satellite proposed at RKK Energia. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak