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Resurs-P2 bolsters Russia's remote-sensing constellation
On Dec. 26, 2014, Russia launched a second copy of its flagship remote-sensing satellite, designated Resurs-P No. 2 or Resurs-P2 for short. Developed by RKTs Progress in the city of Samara, the Resurs-P (47KS) series was designed to provide high-resolution imagery of the Earth surface revealing details as small as one meter in size. Resurs-P (where "P" stood for "prospective") would complement and ultimately replace in this role the Resurs-DK spacecraft launched in 2006. Both Resurs-DK and Resurs-P satellites are believed to be civilian cousins of a classified optical reconnaissance spacecraft also developed at RKTs Progress.
Previous chapter: Resurs-P No. 1 mission
Above: General architecture of the Resurs-P No. 2 satellite.
Above: Optical system of Resurs-P No. 2 satellite in orbital configuration.
Above: Resurs-P No. 2 satellite during testing.
In parallel with the development of the Resurs-P No. 1 remote-sensing satellite launched in 2013, TsSKB Progress (later renamed RKTs Progress) was also working on the second Resurs-P satellite. It was to be a nearly identical copy of its predecessor. The main payload onboard Resurs-P2 included the Geoton-L optical-electronic telescope and a pair of wide-angle multi-spectral cameras collectively known as KShMSA. The Hyper-spectral Photographic Hardware, GSA, would also be re-flown from the original Resurs-P1 mission.
The Russian space agency, Roskosmos, stressed that a wide range of imaging sensors onboard Resurs-P2 represented a unique feature for a remote-sensing satellite. Moreover, a joint operation of two or three Resurs-P satellites could provide unmatched capabilities in the imaging of the Earth's surface, Roskosmos said.
As its predecessor, Resurs-P2 was capable of very advanced imaging operations. It could be commanded to photograph individual objects on the Earth's surface as well as to scan swathes of land extending up to 2,000 kilometers. The spacecraft could capture areas 200 by 300 kilometers, stereo images could be produced during a single orbital path and the scanning could be conducted along a complex zigzag routes on the Earth's surface below the satellite's path, Roskosmos said. According to mission control, the satellite could swing its telescope away from a perpendicular direction toward the Earth surface as fast as 45 degrees in 45 seconds. While looking directly below its flight path, the satellite could capture a swath 38 kilometers wide. A total of 950 kilometers would be captured in a single path, according to Mission Control in Korolev, which was responsible for controlling the spacecraft.
A location of objects imaged by the satellite could be pinpointed with an accuracy between 10 and 15 meters without use of any calibration points on the ground.
While using a single ground station for downlinking its data, Resurs-P2 could photograph 80,000 square kilometers per day in high-resolution mode. The satellite could revisit the captured area for a second look no later than in three days. The imaging data acquired by Resurs-P can be downlinked to the ground at a rate from 150 to 300 megabits per second via a dedicated X-band radio channel.
The 6,392-kilogram satellite was guaranteed to function for at least five years in a 475-kilometer orbit with an inclination 97.28 degrees toward the Equator.
Unlike its predecessor, Resurs-P No. 2 was assigned to carry a high-energy particle detector, which was previously developed for the 750-kilogram Koronas-Nuklon satellite. Originally, there was an apparent plan to launch the Nuklon experiment on the second Lotos-S electronic intelligence satellite, however later, a dedicated spacecraft was proposed for the Nuklon detector. In the spring of 2012, Roskosmos awarded 753.5 million rubles to the Nuclear Physics Research Institute of Moscow State University, NIIYaF, however the development of the satellite itself was canceled by November of that year. As a result, the Nuklon payload was transferred to Resurs-P2.
Another new payload for Resurs-P2 was the Automated Identification System, AIS, developed by a Moscow-based RKS corporation for use by sea vessels.
Known specifications of the Resurs-P No. 2 spacecraft:
*96 according to original technical assignment
Preparations for launch
In one of the early references to the Resurs-P2 spacecraft in June 2008, it was promised to fly in December 2013 and in the spring of 2012, the mission was still expected in the fourth quarter of 2013. At the time, all systems for the satellite were expected to be completed by the end of the year. In May 2012, Roskosmos placed a formal order for a Soyuz-2-1b rocket to carry the second Resurs-P spacecraft into orbit. The vehicle was delivered to Baikonur on July 19, 2013, along with two other Soyuz rockets.
Speaking at the expanded meeting of the company's management on November 16, 2012, the head of TsSKB Progress Aleksandr Kirilin said that the completion of the satellite's assembly without its payloads would have to be completed by January 2013, followed by the transfer of the vehicle to the company's Checkout and Test Facility, KIS, for the first phase of tests. At the time, the launch of the spacecraft was still expected in 2013. On June 27, at a press-conference dedicated to the activities of TsSKB Progress in the first half of 2013, Kirilin said that the launch of the second Resurs-P satellite had been scheduled for the middle of 2014.
In August 2014, Kazakh and Russian sources reported possible launch delays in Baikonur citing new legal issues in the Russian-Kazakh agreement on a drop zone for the first stage of the launch vehicle in Kazakhstan, when it is launched toward the north. The Resurs-P2 mission was then postponed from December 10 to December 26, 2014. On October 15, the Chief Designer council overseeing the Resurs-P project cleared the second spacecraft for launch in December. At the time, the satellite was undergoing final radio tests, RKTs Progress said. Resurs-P2 was delivered to Baikonur on Nov. 17, 2014.
The State Commission overseeing the launch convened several hours before the launch and gave its approval light to the fueling and the liftoff of the launch vehicle.
During its ascent, the Soyuz-2-1b rocket followed this timeline:
As in the previous Resurs mission, the rocket headed north to reach a high-inclination, near-polar orbit to give the satellite an almost global coverage of the Earth's surface. Four strap-on boosters separated less than two minutes after the liftoff, followed by the separation of the core stage 4.7 minutes in flight. In the next two seconds, the tail section of the third stage, which served as an interface with the core stage, split into three sections and separated, followed by the jettisoning of the payload fairing, splitting in two sections.
The third stage firing completed the orbital insertion of the satellite into an initial parking orbit with a planned altitude of 200 by 475 kilometers and an inclination 97.285 degrees toward the Equator nine minutes after the liftoff.
According to the mission control in Korolev, following the separation from the third stage, the satellite was programmed to unfurl a pair of its solar panels and unbuckle the container with the Nuklon experiment, so it could be rotated around 180 degrees into its operational position facing the sky. The satellite would also arm its propulsion system in preparation for orbit correction maneuvers. Finally, Resurs-P would begin orienting itself relative to the orbital coordinate system, OSK. Upon achieving the OSK mode, the time and coordinate synchronization system would be activated onboard the spacecraft, giving the spacecraft ability of using GPS and GLONASS satellites for navigation.
Shortly after the launch, the NORAD radar found two objects (likely the satellite itself and the third stage of the Soyuz rocket) in orbits with an inclination of around 97 degrees toward the Equator:
A pair of engine firings were scheduled during the 37th and 69th orbits of the mission to enter the 477.5-kilometer orbit with an inclination 97.27 degrees toward the Equator. The first engine firing would bring an apogee to 477 kilometers and the second maneuver would make the orbit circular at that altitude.
On December 28, 2014, Resurs-P2 conducted its first engine firing. The NORAD radar detected the satellite in a 332 by 470-kilometer orbit with an inclination 97.27 degrees toward the Equator.
Three days later, RKTs Progress announced that Resurs-P2 had entered its operational orbit. According to the company, on December 31, 2014, the spacecraft maneuvered to a 467 by 499.6-kilometer orbit with an inclination 97.276 degrees toward the Equator and a rotation period of 93.99 minutes. At the time, ground control was conducting calibration of instruments for obtaining images of the Earth's surface. The parameters of temperature, compartments' pressure and electric current were all within margins and there were no problems with onboard hardware, the company said.
According to Roskosmos, testing of imaging systems onboard Resurs-P2 started on January 4, 2015, and a day later its main instruments supplied first images. Several photos were released on the same day, including one in color. On January 13, Roskosmos announced that the Geoton payload onboard Resurs-P2 had been delivering daily images with a resolution better than one meter, while flight testing of the spacecraft had been ongoing. More pictures were made public, including views of Moscow, the Vostochny launch site and various famous landmarks around the world.
Above: Resurs-P No. 2 took this photo of a new business district in Moscow on Jan. 6, 2015.
Next chapter: Resurs-P3
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Last update: April 14, 2016
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The Geoton-L1 telescope is the primary payload onboard the Resurs-P1 satellite. Click to enlarge.
GSA payload. Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Resurs-P2 satellite during testing in Baikonur in October 2014. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Rollout of the Soyuz rocket to the launch pad on Dec. 24, 2014. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Soyuz-2-1b rocket with Resurs-P2 satellite shortly before liftoff on Dec. 26, 2014. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
One of the earliest color photos released from Resurs-P2 satellite shows Santa Maria, California, on Jan. 4, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Resurs-P No. 2 snapped this photo of an airport in Ahmedabad, India, on Jan. 5, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
A stadium in Spanish capital, the home of famous Real Madrid football team on a test photo of the Resurs-P2 satellite taken on Jan. 7, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Port of San Francisco on a test photo of the Resurs-P2 satellite taken on Jan. 8, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Sydney opera house on a test photo of the Resurs-P2 satellite taken on Jan. 8, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Lisbon photographed on Jan. 9, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Vatican photographed on Jan. 9, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
A support area in Vostochny, including headquarters building of the future space center as seen by Resurs-P2 on Jan. 11, 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos