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Spooky world of military satellites

A vast majority of satellites that the Soviet Union had launched from 1961 to 1991 carried out military missions. Publicly, however, the USSR denied the very existence of the military space program. Not surprisingly, numerous military space projects were not publically known until the last decade of the 20th century.


Kosmos series

At the beginning of the 1960s, in order to provide a public "comouflage" for its expanding military space program, the Soviet government adopted a policy of assigning Kosmos names to all military satellites reaching orbit. In addition, any non-military payloads, whose mission was supposed to remain secret, were also lumped together with the Kosmos series. First of all, they included failed missions, since the Kremlin could not publically admit any failure in the prestige-driven space program. For example, a number of Soviet planetary probes, which had reached the Earth orbit but then failed to depart to their deep-space destinations, ended up in the Kosmos series. Also, some test missions, which had flown before their programs were publically announced, also became the part of the Kosmos series.

During the Soviet period, it was up to independent observers around the world to unscrumble the puzzle of the Kosmos series. Space sleuts based their analysis on a combination of available official data and the amateur satellite tracking information.

The post-Soviet Russia adopted "western" approach to public information about classified missions -- military launches would be identified as such and they would receive traditional Kosmos names with a respective number. Civilian launches would no longer be classified.

Post-Soviet reorganization

On May 7, 1992, a presidential decree reorganized remaining military space units into Military Space Forces or VKS, merging them with Russian Strategic Missile Forces, RVSN. However Russian military assets in orbit continuously degraded during the 1990s, as the Ministry of Defense could not afford to launch new spacecraft to replace aging and failing satellites. The situation started changing to the better in the first decade of the 21th century, as the Russian economy had improved. In 2001, space forces were again split from RVSN and renamed Space Forces of Russia, or KVR. In the spring of 2006, President Vladimir Putin said that Russian military budget would increase by 20 percent in the coming year, while the official media promised restoration of the Russian military satellite constellation by 2008. The process continued in the 2010s, with Ministry of Defense planning to acquire five spacecraft during 2011. By 2012, 85 percent of Russian military satellites were developed at ISS Reshetnev in Zheleznogorsk. According to the company, 83 of its satellites were functioning in orbit, as of November 1. (613)

In 2009, another phase of reorganization of the Russian military space program was completed, with new entities added, others reduced and an overall organizational structure optimized, Oleg Ostapenko, the commander of Space forces told Russian press. At the time, Russian space forces included:

  • Plesetsk Cosmodrome;
  • Titov Chief Center for Testing and Control of Space Assets, GITsIU KS;
  • Chief Center of Outer Space Monitoring, GTs KKP;
  • Chief Center for Early Warning of Rocket Attack, GTs PRN;
  • Anti-missile defense unit;
  • A directorate for deployment of new systems and complexes of Space Forces;
  • Mozhaisky military space academy, with Moscow military institute of radio-electronics of Space forces and Cherepovetsk military engineering institute of radio-electronics;
  • Guard, logistics and support units; (371)

Russia gets its own "ghost" satellites

On May 6, 2014, Russia launched a routine spy satellite in the Kobalt-M series. However to the surprise of Russian space watchers, it was designated Kosmos-2495, even though the previously launched military payload was believed to be Kosmos-2491. Unless it was an error, three military payloads were "missing" from the record!

Initially, the prevailing theory was that two of the missing numbers were assigned to a pair radar calibration spheres released in December 2013, during the first test launch of the Soyuz-2-1v rocket. The third missing number -- Kosmos-2491 -- was believed to be associated with an object detected by Western radar after the launch of three Strela/Rodnik satellites on Dec. 25, 2013. The story was repeated on May 23, 2014, when another trio of Rodniks had been launched with a mysterious "add-on" payload. Its maneuvers in the following weeks bewildered watchers of the Russian space program.

When the GLONASS-M No. 55 was launched on June 14, 2014, under name Kosmos-1500, Russian military essentially confirmed the existence of previously unannounced military payloads. It now looked certain that the May 23 fragment had indeed been Kosmos-2499. The purpose of Kosmos-2491 and Kosmos-2499 "ghost" satellites remained a mystery.



IN THE UNIFORM: The overview of the unmanned military spacecraft developed in the former USSR:

The project name(s)
Launcher
Principal developer
Mission
First launch
Declared operational
Mission details
14F01
-
NPO Mash/AVEKS
-
-
-
Disclosed in 2014
14F150
-
NPO Lavochkin/TsSKB Progress(?)
-
-
-
NIR Napryazhenie, OKR Nevelir ZU at TsSKB Progress
14K11
-
-
-
-
-
-
14K160
-
-
?
-
-
Revealed circa 2012
372KK04
-
RKK Energia
?
-
-
Revealed circa 2012
559GK (Egyptsat-2)
RKK Energia
Optical reconnaissance
2014
-
Revealed in 2009
Alkor (14F16)
-
-
-
-
-
-
Almaz-T
KB Mash
Radar reconnaissance
1986
-
Unmanned version of the orbital station
Altair/Luch
NPO PM
Relay
1985
-
Relay system to serve manned DOS spacecraft
Araks-N/V (11F664)
Proton (?)
NPO Lavochkin
Reconnaissance
1997
-
Kosmos-2344 (see Arkon)
Araks-R
-
NPO Lavochkin
Reconnaissance
-
-
In development since 2012(?)
Arkon-1
NPO Lavochkin
Reconnaissance
1997
-
A classified spacecraft
Bars (17F112), Bars-M (14K035/14F148)
-
TsSKB Progress
Cartography
-
-
Revealed in 2004-2006; under development in 2005; Replaces Kometa

Don (17F12) (see Orlets)

Soyuz
TsKB
Photo-reconnaissance
-
1989 July 18
see Orlets
DS-P1
Kosmos-2
OKB-586 MOM
Radar calibration
1962
1968
Reflectors for radar calibration
DS-P1-U
Kosmos-2
OKB-586 MOM
Radar calibration
1962
1967
Reflectors for radar calibration
DS-P1-I
Kosmos-2
OKB-586 MOM
Radar calibration
1962
1970
Reflectors for radar calibration
Duga-K (see Taifun-3)
-
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
-
-
-
EKS (Yedinaya Kosmicheskaya Sistema) see Tundra
-
RKK Energia
Early warning
2009? (as of 2007)
in development
To replace US-K
Enisei
-
TsKB
Reconnaissance
-
1997.07
-
Garpun (14F136)
ISS Reshetnev
Data relay
-
Data relay from Pion (?), Lotos and Persona?
Gelios (14F30)
-
-
-
1995
-
-
Geizer (Potok)
ISS Reshetnev
Data relay
1982 May 18
-
A Rassvet global command and relay system working in a centimeter-range of wavelength and to serve Yantar spacecraft
Geo-IK-2 (14F31)
ISS Reshetnev
Geodesy
2011
-
-
Globus-1
-
Communications
1989
1996.09
see Raduga-1
Globus-1M
-
Communications
2007 Dec. 9
-
see Raduga-1
IS
OKB-52
1967
1971
First intercept in 1968
IS-MD (75P6)
?
1988
?
-
IS-MU (Naryad/14F10)
?
?
1991
-
Iskander
-
-
-
-
-
-
Kaskad (17F111)
NPO Energia
ASAT, AMD
1986-1988
-
-
Kobalt (11F695) (see Yantar-4K2)
-
TsSKB Progress
Reconnaissance
-
-
-
Kobalt-M (11F695M)
Soyuz
TsSKB Progress (built by OAO Arsenal)
Reconnaissance
2004 Sept. 24
-
6.6-ton, 120-day lifespan, based on Yantar-4K2; returns film capsules
Koltso (17F115)
-
-
-
-
-
-
Kometa
Soyuz
-
Cartography
-
-
See Yantar-1KFT
Kondor (14F133)
NPO Mashinostroenia
Radar reconnaissance
-
-
Labirint, Labirint-V
Soyuz or Angara-5 (?)
ISS Reshetnev (?)
ELINT (?)
-
-
Reported in 2008. Processing was expected in Plesetsk
Legenda (see US-P)
-
-
Navy
-
-
-
Lira
Kosmos-3M
KB Yuzhnoe
Target for ASAT tests
1966
1973
Used for IS ASAT testing in the Tyulpan complex
Liana
KB Arsenal/TsSKB Progress
ELINT
-
A follow-on "common platform" to US-P and Tselina spacecraft; under development since 1993.
Lotos-S (S1) 14F138/14F145 (see Liana)
Zenit (from 1996 Soyuz-2)
KB Arsenal/TsSKB Progress ?
ELINT?
2009 Nov. 20
2012?
A follow-on to Tselina-2; carries "Bars" payload.
Meridian (14F112)
NPO PM
Communications
2006 Dec. 6
-
- 
Meteor
Vostok-2M
VNII EM
Weather forecasting
1967
1969
Military and civilian use VKS
Meteor-2
Vostok M Tsyklon-3
VNII EM
Weather forecasting
1975
-
Military and civilian use
Molniya-1 (11F67)
Molniya
KB PM MOM
Communications
1964
1968
Korund, Ruchei, Surgut military communications networks
Molniya-1T
KB PM MOM
Communications
1983
1987
Serves Korund-M network
Molniya-2
KB PM MOM
Communications
1971
1974
Korund (?), Kristall network
Molniya-2M (11F637)
KB PM MOM
Communications
-
-
Kristall network
Molniya-3 (11F658)
NPO PM
Communications
1974
-
Elliptical orbit spacecraft; 52 spacecraft launched for ESSS network during 29 years
Molniya-3K (14F33)
NPO PM
Communications
-
-
Elliptical orbit spacecraft
Musson/Geo-IK/Eridan
NPO PM
Geodesy
1981
-
-
Naryad (14F11)
KB Salyut
ASAT
1990
-
-
Obzor
-
-
-
-
-
-

Oko-1 (71Kh6) (US-K, 73D6)

NPO Lavochkin
Early-warning
1972
1978
US-KS SPRN early-warning network

Olymp (Luch, 11K166?)

ISS Reshetnev
Data relay (?)
2014 Sept. 28
-
Laser data-relay
Orlets (Don/ 17F12)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
Wide-angle detailed and survey reconnaissance with high-frequency delivery
1989 July 18
?
Used 8 retrievable capsules to return film
Orlets (2) Yenisei-2
TsKB MOM
Wide-plane detailed and survey reconnaissance with high-frequency delivery
1994?
?
Launched in Sept. 2000(?)
Parus
KB PM MOM
Navigation/communications
1974
1976
See: Tsyklon-B
Persona (14F137)
TsSKB Progress
Reconnaissance
2008 July 26
-
7-year lifespan; Replaced Yantar-4KS2/Neman
Phaza
-
-
-
(in development as of 2006)
-
Geostationary early-warning
PION
-
SKB-1 (Nauka) SGAU
Passive Artificial Object of Observation (PION)
1989
-
Studies of variations in the upper atmosphere density; Until 1992, six 50-kilogram satellites released from three Resurs-F1 satellites.
Pion-NKS 14F139 (for 14K160 system)
Zenit (from 1996 Soyuz-2)
KB Arsenal/TsSKB Progress
Navy ELINT, RORSAT, guidance?
Delayed from 2009
-
Follow on to US-PU
Pirs-1
(?)
KB Arsenal
Naval reconnaissance (surface ships detection)
-
-
Ideogramma-Pirs network (follow on MKRTs network)
Pirs-2
(?)
KB Arsenal
Naval reconnaissance (submarine detection)
-
-
Ideogramma-Pirs network (follow on MKRTs network)
Polyot
OKB-52
Experimental ASAT
1963
-
ASAT prototype
Potok
NPO PM
Data relay
1995 Aug. 31
-
A Rassvet global command and relay system working in a centimeter-range of wavelength and to serve Yantar spacecraft. Joined Splav and Sintez networks.
Raduga/Gran 11F638
NPO PM
Communications
1974
1979
Geostationary spacecraft
Raduga-1/Globus-1
NPO PM
Communications
1989
-
Geostationary spacecraft
Raduga-1M/Globus-1M
NPO PM
Communications
2007
-
Geostationary spacecraft
Rodnik (14F132), Rodnik-S (see also: Strela-3M)
-
NPO PM
Communications
2005 Dec. 21
-
Low-orbital comsat
Romb (see Taifun-2)
Kosmos 3M
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
~1975
-
-
Sapfir
TsKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
-
-
See Yantar
Signal
Rockot
-
-
-
-
-
Skif-DM (Polus) 17F19DM
KB Salyut
Laser battle station
1987
N/A
A prototype of space-based laser
Skif-D1
KB Salyut
Laser battle station
Was planned for 1988
N/A
A space-based laser with operational turbo-generator
Skif-Stilet
KB Salyut
Laser battle station
?
N/A
A space-based infrared laser
Sozvezdie-Barbette
-
NPO Lavochkin, TsNII Kometa
Early warning
-
-
Project; replaced with EKS
Sfera
NPO PM
Geodetic, cartography
1968
1972
Equipped with measurement and signaling devices; 18 satellites launched until 1978. (557)
Strela-1 (11F610)
KB PM MOM
Communications
1964 Aug. 22
1973
Launched in clusters of five
Strela-1M (11F625)
KB PM MOM
Communications
1970 April 25
1973
Launched in clusters of eight. 45 satellites launched until June 3, 1992.
Strela (2) (11F611)
KB PM MOM
Communications
1965 Dec. 28 (Kosmos-103)
-
In development since 1962. Launched in clusters. Gravitational orientation.
Strela-2M (11F626) Forpost (?)
KB PM MOM
Communications
1970 Oct. 16
1974
48 satellites launched in clusters until 1994.
Strela-3 (17F13)
KB PM MOM
Communications
1985
-
Launched in clusters of six
Strela-3M/Rodnik (14F132)
KB PM MOM
Communications
2005 Dec. 21
-
Launched in clusters of three
Stroi-O
Rockot (?)
-
-
-
-
-
Taifun-1/Vektor (11F633)
Kosmos 3M
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
~1975
1981
-
Taifun-1B/Yug (17F31)
-
-
-
-
-
-
Taifun-2/Romb (11F634)
Kosmos 3M
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
~1975
-
-
Taifun-1U
-
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
1979
~1983
The spacecraft with smooth surface
Taifun-3/Duga-K (17F114)
-
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
-
-
-
TGR (11F636)
-
OKB-52 GKOT/TsNII Kometa
Tactical television reconnaissance
n/a
n/a
Preliminary design in 1963. Taifun-based Canceled
Tselina-O (11F616)
Kosmos 3M
OKB-586
Survey ELINT
1965
1971
Low-res ELINT
Tselina-D (Ikar)
OKB-586
Detailed ELINT
1970
1976
High-res ELINT
Tselina (2) (11F644)
OKB-586
ELINT
1984
1990
Under development since 1973
Tsikada (11F643)
KB PM/PO Polet
Navigation
1976 Dec. 17
1979
Under development since 1974
Tsirkon
-
TsKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
-
-
See Yantar
Tsyklon
KB PM MOM
Navigation/communications
1967 Nov. 23
1972
A four-satellite constellation in the low orbit
Tsyklon-B (Parus)
KB PM MOM
Navigation/communications
1974
1976
Also known as Tsyklon-B. The last satellite launched on Sept. 11, 2000; A 80-100-meter navigation accuracy
Tundra (14K235, 14F142) (EKS?)
Soyuz/Fregat (?)
TsNII Kometa/RKK Energia (?)
Early warning (?)
2013?
-
In development for EKS system? High elliptical orbit
Turmalin KSPVN
-
NPO Mashinostroenia
Early warning air defense
-
-
In development mid-1980s-1992
Uragan
NPO PM/PO Polyot
Navigation
1982
1993
GLONASS navigation system
Uragan-K (GLONASS-K)
ISS Reshetnev
Navigation
-
GLONASS navigation system
US-A
OKB-52
RORSAT for MKRTs network
1967
1975
Nuclear-powered radar spacecraft
US-P
OKB-52
EORSAT for MKRTs (Legenda) network
1974
1979
The spacecraft for passive eavesdropping
US-PM
KB Arsenal
EORSAT
-
-
The spacecraft for passive eavesdropping
US-K, (Oko, 73D6)
-
-
Early-warning
-
SPRN network
US-KMO (Oko-1, Prognoz, 71Kh6)
Lavochkin
Early-warning
-
1996.09
Geostationary segment of SPRN network
US-KS (Oko-S, 74Kh6)
-
-
Early-warning
-
SPRN network
Vektor (See Taifun-1)
Kosmos 3M
KB Yuzhnoe
Radar calibration
~1975
1981
-
Yantar
-
KB Yuzhnoe
Photo-reconnaissance
-
-
Preliminary design Not developed.
Yantar-1KF (11F622)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
-
-
Preliminary design 1967-69. R&D in 1970. Replaced by Yantar-2K
Yantar-2K/Phoenix-S (11F624)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res photo-reconnaissance
1974 Dec. 13
1978 May 22
Preliminary design in 1967-69. R&D in 1970. 30 launched through 1983.
Yantar-4K1/Oktan
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res photo-reconnaissance
1979 April 27
1981 Sept. 8
Used up to 22 retrievable capsules to return film
Yantar-4K2/Kobalt
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res photo-reconnaissance
1992
?
Used up to 22 retrievable capsules to return film
Yantar-4KS1/Terilen (11F694)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res optical electronic reconnaissance
1982 Dec. 28
1986 Jan. 21
Used retrievable capsule to return film. 24 launched through 2000.
Yantar-4KS1M/Neman (17F117)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res optical electronic reconnaissance
1986 Feb. 7
1989 March 17
Transmitted imagery via Potok relay satellite
Yantar-1KFT/Kometa
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
1981
-
Survey reconnaissance and cartography; Development stopped waiting for Zenit booster. 21 launched through 2005.
Yantar-6K (11F650)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
-
-
Project of high-resollution spacecraft
Yantar-6KS
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
-
-
-
-
Yug (see Taifun-1B)
-
-
-
-
-
-

Zenit-2 (11F61) (Originally 2K Vostok-2 (11F62)

Vostok (8K72, 8A92, 11A57)
OKB-1
Photo-reconnaissance
1961 Dec. 11 (failed); 1962 April 26 (successful)
1964 March 10
Used Ftor-2 imaging payload with four cameras inside retrievable capsule. 82 spacecraft flew through 1970.
Zenit-2M Gektor
Vostok
KF TsKBEM/TsSKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
1968 March? 21
1970
Used retrievable capsule to return film. 102 launched through 1979.
Zenit-4 (11F69)(Originally 4K Vostok-4 (11F64)
8A92, 11A57
OKB-1/Branch 3
Photo-reconnaissance
1963? Nov. 16
1965 July 12
Used retrievable capsule to return film
Zenit-4MK/Germes (11F692)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
Detailed reconnaissance
1969 Dec. 23
1972
77 launched through 1977.
Zenit-4MKM/Gerakl (11F692M)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
Detailed reconnaissance
1974 June 13
1978
-
Zenit-4M/Rotor (11F691)
KF TsKBEM/TsSKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance
1968 Oct. 31?
1971
Used retrievable capsule to return film
Zenit-4MT/Orion (11F629)
-
KF TsKBEM/TsSKB MOM
Photo-reconnaissance and cartography
1971 Dec. 27
1976
Used retrievable capsule to return film; cartographic payload. 23 launched through 1982.
Zenit-6/Argon (11F645)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res and low-res reconnaissance
1976 Nov. 23
-
Maneuvering spacecraft
Zenit-6U (17F116)
Soyuz-U
TsKB MOM
High-res and low-res reconnaissance
-
-
Maneuvering spacecraft
Zenit-8/Oblik (17F116)
-
-
Photo-reconnaissance
1984 June 11
-
Versatile detailed and survey spacecraft with manuevering capabilities

Recent developments:

Putin to split space and missile forces

Posted: 2001 Jan. 26

Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to separate military space units from their subordination to the Strategic Missile Forces, RVSN, sources in Moscow said. Putin announced his intention to restructure RVSN during a closed-door meeting of the security council in the last week of January 2001. According to the Russian press, all space and space defense units of the Ministry of Defense will form a separate type of armed forces.

Details inside


2001 May 29, 21:55 Moscow Time (1:55 p.m. EDT): The Soyuz U rocket launched a military satellite, apparently the Yantar or Kobalt imaging spacecraft, from Plesetsk's Pad 4 at Site 43. According to official information from the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, the spacecraft successfully reached orbit at 22:04 Moscow Time. The payload announced as Kosmos-2377. In preparation for the launch, the Soyuz U rocket arrived to the launch pad on May 28 at 10:20 Moscow Time. (Energy supply problems in Plesetsk threatened to delay the launch). According to the data from NORAD, the Kosmos-2377 entered 165 x 358-kilometer orbit with the inclination 67.1 degrees, which matches the orbit parameters for the Kobalt/Yantar-type satellites. (Data via Jonathan McDowell).


2001 June 8, 19:12 Moscow Time (11:12 p.m. EDT): The Kosmos-3M launcher returned to flight on Friday, June 8, with the successful launch of a military satellite. The two-stage rocket blasted off from Russia's Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk at 20:12 Moscow Time (12:12 p.m. EDT) on June 8, according to the Russian Space Forces. The spacecraft, announced as Kosmos-2378, successfully reached the orbit. The parameters of its orbit (1,023 by 981 kilometers, inclination 82.9 degrees toward the Equator) suggest that the satellite belongs to the Tsyklon-B navigation and communications network, comprised of the Parus ("Sail") spacecraft. Russia's missile carrying submarines and surface battleships use the Parus spacecraft to determine their exact position in the open sea -- the information critical for the high-precision warfare.


2001 July 20: The Molniya-M rocket successfully delivered a Molniya-3K satellite, for military communications after the launch at 00:17 UTC from Pad 4 at Site 43 in in Plesetsk. The latest launch was earlier expected in June.


2001 Aug. 24, 23:35 Moscow Time: A Proton launched a Kosmos-2379 military payload (An 71Kh6 No. 7124 early warning satellite.) The mission was delayed for 24 hours by technical problems.


2001 Oct. 6, 20:45 Moscow Time: The Proton launched a military satellite (apparently Raduga-1 comsat) from Baikonur;


2001 Oct. 25: Russian Space Forces launched a military communications satellite today from its Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk. A four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off from the Launch Pad 3 at Site 43 of the Cosmodrome at 15:34 Moscow Time (7:34 a.m. EDT) and ten minutes later successfully delivered Molniya (Lightning) spacecraft into the initial orbit. The fourth stage of the launcher then expected to fire again to push the spacecraft into its final highly elliptical orbit with the inclination 62.8 degrees toward the Equator. The launch was previously scheduled for October 11.


2001 Dec. 1: The Proton-K rocket blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 21:04 Moscow Time (1:04 p.m. EST), carrying two standard Uragan ("Hurricane") spacecraft and a brand-new Uragan-M satellite for the GLONASS network -- the Russian equivalent of the US Global Positioning System, GPS. The introduction of newer Uragan-M satellites promises to save the cost of operating the GLONASS network, thanks to the spacecraft’s longer operational lifetime. As of November 27, only six Uragan satellites, launched last year and in 1998, were functioning in orbit.


2001 Dec. 21: After a two-day delay, a Ukrainian-built Tsyklon-2 booster successfully delivered a Russian electronic intelligence spacecraft on Friday. A 182-ton two-stage rocket blasted off from Site 90 in Baikonur at 07:00 Moscow Time on December 21. The rocket was carrying the US-PU satellite built by KB Arsenal development center in St. Petersburg and designed to provide electronic intelligence and missile guidance information for the Russian Navy. The rocket successfully inserted the spacecraft into a transfer orbit with the apogee of 400 kilometers. The satellite, officially designated Kosmos-2383, was then expected to use its own propulsion system to reach a final orbit around 07:48 Moscow Time on December 21.

This was the first launch of the US-type spacecraft since December 1999 and the 104th launch of the Tsyklon-2 booster.


2001 Dec. 27 (EST): In the last space launch of 2001, a Ukrainian-built rocket delivered a sextet of communications satellites into orbit after an early-morning blastoff from Russia’s northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk. The three-stage Tsyklon-3 booster took off from Launch Complex 32 in Plesetsk at 06:24 Moscow Time on December 28. The rocket was carrying six satellites, including three Gonets D1 (“Messenger”) spacecraft intended to replenish a low-orbital communications network. Remaining three satellites onboard the rocket belonged to the Russian Ministry of Defense and in an accordance with the standard practice for the military spacecraft were identified as Kosmos-2384, -2385 and -2386.


2002 Feb. 25: Russia launched its first space mission in 2002, delivering a secret satellite into low Earth orbit from Plesetsk. The Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from Russia’s northern launch facility at 20:26 Moscow Time, after a 2-hour-7-minute delay caused by technical problems. It was 1666th mission of the veteran rocket based on the R-7 ICBM. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Director of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency Yuri Koptev personally viewed the launch in Plesetsk. Some nine minutes after the blastoff, the spacecraft, officially announced as Kosmos-2387, reached the orbit. The Kosmos-2387 apparently belongs to the Yantar family of imaging reconnaissance satellites, routinely launched from Plesetsk. Total 10 launches are planned from Plesetsk during 2002, according to Russian space officials. Six space launches took place from the site, during 2001.


2002 April 2: Russian Space Forces launched a military satellite on Tuesday from their Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk. A four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off at 02:07 Moscow Time on April 2 and ten minutes later successfully delivered a classified military payload, most likely Oko-type early-warning satellite, to the initial Earth orbit. The upper stage of the launch vehicle then expected to maneuver the satellite into highly elliptical orbit.


2002 May 28: The Kosmos-3M booster delivered a navigation satellite after the launch from Russia's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk. The payload, officially identified as Kosmos-2389, apparently belongs to the Tsikada series of navigation satellites.


2002 July 8: The Kosmos-3M booster delivered two classified satellites after a successful launch from Russia's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk. The launch took place at 10:36 Moscow Time. The payload was officially identified only as Kosmos-2390 and Kosmos-2391, however the Russian press reported that the spacecraft belong to the series of the Strela communications network, providing secret communications for the Russian authorities.


2002 July 25: The Proton booster launched a classified satellite from Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, officially announced as Kosmos-2392. The launch took place at 19:13 Moscow Time (11:13 a.m. EST). The spacecraft was expected to separate from the upper stage of the launch vehicle at 21:27 Moscow Time (1:27 p.m. EST), after reaching highly elliptical orbit around the Earth. Statements made by the Russian space officials confirmed that the payload belonged to the Araks (Arkon) family of spacecraft developed by NPO Lavochkin. The company advertised the satellite as a dual-purpose system, designed for military and civilian observations of the Earth surface. This was belived to be the second launch of the spacecraft of this type. The first Araks satellite was launched in June 1997.


2002 Nov. 28: The Kosmos-3M booster delivered Algerian and Russian satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit, after the launch from Russia's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk. A two-stage vehicle blasted off at 09:07 Moscow Time on Nov. 28, 2002, carrying AlSat-1 remote-sensing satellite for the Algerian government and the Mozhaets experimental satellite, designed for the training of the Russian military academy students. According to the Russian Space Forces, both satellites successfully reached a 701 x 680-kilometer orbit.


2002 Dec. 24: Russian Space Forces launched a military satellite on Tuesday from their Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk. A four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off at 15:20 Moscow Time on December 24, 2002, and ten minutes later successfully delivered a classified military payload, officially identified as Kosmos-2393, to the initial Earth orbit. The spacecraft is most likely the Oko-type early-warning satellite.


2002 Dec. 25: The Proton-K rocket blasted off from Pad 23 at Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 10:37 Moscow Time, carrying three Uragan-M ("Hurricane") spacecraft for the GLONASS network -- the Russian equivalent of the US Global Positioning System, GPS. According to the official reports, the payload successfully reached the initial parking orbit at 10:48 Moscow Time. After additional maneuvers, trio of 1,425-kilogram satellites were to separate from the upper stage of the launch vehicle in their final orbit between 14:35 and 15:11 Moscow Time. This was the first launch of the Proton rocket with the Block DM upper stage, after similar vehicle failed to deliver a commercial communications satellite into its final orbit on Nov. 26, 2002.


2003 April 2: Russia launched a communications satellite to be used by the country’s armed forces. According to Russian Space Forces, the four-stage Molniya-M rocket blasted off from Russia’s northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk on April 2, 2003, at 05:53 Moscow Time, carrying a Molniya-1T spacecraft. The satellite separated from the fourth stage of the launch vehicle at 06:50 Moscow Time, after entering a highly-elliptical orbit around the Earth. At 07:38 Moscow Time, the ground control station of the Russian Space Forces established contact with the spacecraft.


2003 April 24: The Proton-K rocket blasted off from Pad 24 at Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 08:23:13 Moscow Time, carrying a classified military payload. According to the Russian Space Forces, VKS, the vehicle successfully reached an initial parking orbit at 8:33 Moscow Time. The Proton's upper stage then was expected to fire twice to deliver the satellite, designated Kosmos-2397, into the final orbit. The separation between the payload and the upper stage was scheduled for 15:00 Moscow Time on April 24. The Proton rockets are routinely used for the delivery of communications and early warning satellites for the Russian military.


2003 June 4: The Russian military launched a classified payload from country's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk on June 4, 2003. The Kosmos-3 booster blasted off at 23:23 Moscow Time and the spacecraft was expected to reach its final orbit at 00:27 Moscow Time on June 5, 2003. The payload was officially identified as Kosmos-2398. Although no information on the purpose of the spacecraft had been released, it is known that the Kosmos-3 booster is routinely used to deliver low-orbital navigation and communication satellites for the Russian military.


2003 June 20: Russia successfully launched a military communications satellite from its northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk. According to Russian Space Forces, a four-stage Molniya-M rocket with Block ML upper stage blasted off at midnight Moscow Time on June 20, 2003, carrying a 1,600-kilogram Molniya-type spacecraft, apparently its newest Molniya-3 version based on a Molniya-2M (11F637) platform. This has been the second launch of the spacecraft in the Molniya family since April 2, 2003. The launch was earlier anticipated on June 19.


2003 Aug. 12: The Soyuz rocket delivered a classified military payload, possibly a Neman-type imaging surveillance satellite, after a successful launch from Kazakhstan. The Soyuz U launch vehicle, blasted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 18:20 Moscow Time on August 12, 2003. According to the Starsem venture, marketing the Soyuz family of launchers in the West, the latest mission was a success. The payload received an official designation Kosmos-2399.


2003 Aug. 12: The Russian rocket delivered a classified military payload, apparently a Don-type low-resolution imaging surveillance satellite, after a successful launch from Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz U launch vehicle, blasted off from Pad 6 at Site 31 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 18:20 Moscow Time on August 12, 2003. According to the Starsem venture, marketing the Soyuz family of launchers in the West, the latest mission was a success. The payload received an official designation Kosmos-2399. However, after only three months in orbit, in November 2003, the US radar detected five fragments in place of Kosmos-2399. It was thought that satellite either broke up or was intentionally destroyed after onboard failure. Moscow-based Kommersant daily reported on November 25, 2003 that after the loss of the Don spacecraft, Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Chief of Staff (GRU) was left without a single surveillance satellite in orbit. The newspaper said that the mission of the Don satellite was to replace the Araks satellite, which also failed prematurely in the summer of 2003 after only one year in orbit.

Hardly a day after the reports about the problems onboard Kosmos-2399 had surfaced, the Russian Space Forces denied the report about the loss of the spacecraft. Kommersant newspaper later claimed that during the jettisoning of one of eight reentry capsules designed to return information to Earth, the capsule released its surveillance film into space. "Flickering" of the film in space apparently caused three signatures on the radar, and together with the satellite and the capsule resulted in the registering of five fragments in orbit. The story continued in mid-December 2003, when 12 more fragments were detected separating from the main body of the spacecraft, renewing speculations about the destruction of the satellite. The latest debris appeared to originate in the morning Dec. 9, 2003, as the spacecraft flew over Russia, hinting that satellite might had been destroyed by a command from the ground.


2003 Dec. 5: After years of delays, the Strela booster flew its first orbital mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome. The vehicle blasted off from the underground silo facility at Site 132 at 09:00 Moscow Time on December 5, 2003. The rocket then successfully delivered its payload -- a mockup of the Kondor-E surveillance satellite -- into a 404 by 465-kilometer orbit with the inclination 67 degrees. However, the press service of the Russian strategic missile forces mistakenly identified the mission as a sub-orbital training launch of the ballistic missile and the official Russian media blindly disseminated the report.

Converted from the retired UR-100NUTTKh ballistic missile, the Strela is intended to deliver a variety of lightweight military payloads developed by NPO Mashinostroenia. As of 2001, the first test launch of the Strela booster from Baikonur was expected in the second or third quarter of 2002, however lack of funding kept delaying the mission. Operational launches of the Strela booster will be conducted from the converted silo complex of the UR-100NUTTKh missile in Svobodny in the Russian Far East.


2003 Dec. 10: Russia launched three satellites to replenish the nation's GLONASS global navigation network. The Proton rocket with a Briz-M upper stage blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 10, 2003 at 20:42:12 Moscow Time, carrying two Uragan and one Uragan-M spacecraft. After reaching the orbit, the satellites were designated as Kosmos-2402, -2403 and -2404. The latest launch aimed to replenish semi-military global positioning system, known as GLONASS, the Russian equivalent of the American GPS system. The network was designed to include 24 satellites evenly spread over three orbital planes, however due to lack of funds only eight satellites were functioning before the launch on Dec. 13, 2003. As a result, the GLONASS network was able to provide less accurate navigation then a completed system.


2004 Feb. 18, 10:05:55 Moscow Time (07:05 GMT): The Molniya-M booster successfully launched a military communications satellite from Plesetsk. Upon reaching its final highly elliptical orbit at 11:02 Moscow Time, the payload, (apparently a Molniya-1T No. 100) was initially identified in the Russian sources as Kosmos-2405, however was later renamed Molniya-1T.


2004 March 27: The Proton rocket with Block DM upper stage blasted off from Pad 23 at Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 27, 2004, at 06:30 Moscow Time, carrying a classified payload for the Soviet military. According to the Russian space forces, the spacecraft separated from its upper stage at 13:06 Moscow Time, after apparently successful launch. Traditionally for the military spacecraft, the payload was identified as Kosmos-2406, with no details about its mission officially disclosed. However, several weeks later the spacecraft was renamed Raduga-1 -- a series of communications satellites. According to the Russian press, Lt. General Oleg Gromov, Deputy Commander of Space Forces attended the launch.


2004 May 28: Russia launched a classified military payload to monitor foreign Navy activities. According to the Russian Space Forces, KVR, a Tsyklon-2 rocket carrying a Kosmos-series satellite blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 10:00 Moscow Time. Four minutes later, the spacecraft separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle. The payload was identified as Kosmos-2405.

Tsyklon-2 routinely delivers US-PM electronic intelligence, ELINT, spacecraft designed to detect sea vessels by intercepting their radio signals. The information from the satellites reportedly can be used to navigate Russian cruise missiles toward their targets. This mission was originally expected at the end of 2002. A previous spacecraft of this type was launched in December 2001.


2004 June 10: A long-delayed military mission finally took off successfully from Russian launch site in Kazakhstan. The Zenit-2 rocket carrying a classified payload for the Russian Ministry of Defense blasted off from Site 43 in Baikonur Cosmodrome at 05:28 Moscow Time on June 10, 2004. According to the Russian Space Forces, the spacecraft separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle at 05:41 Moscow Time and successfully established radio contact with ground control. The payload was designated as Kosmos-2406. (Earlier the same designation was assigned to previous military payload, however it was later renamed, freeing the number.) According to North American Aerospace Defense, NORAD, the Kosmos-2406 entered a 848 by 865-kilometer orbit, with the inclination 71 degrees toward the Equator.


2004 Sept. 24: Russian military launched a new generation of spacecraft designed to track military activities at sea and possibly on land through electronic signal interception, also known as ELINT.

A Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from the nation's Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk on September 24, 2004, at 20:50 Moscow Time, and successfully delivered a military payload designated as Kosmos-2410 nine minutes later. A State Commission led by Lt. General Vladimir Popovkin, Commander of the Russian Space Forces, KVR, oversaw the launch. According to KVR, ground control established contact with the spacecraft at 21:01 Moscow Time.

Russian media reported that the payload initiated flight testing of the new generation of spacecraft developed by TsSKB Progress in Samara and OAO MZ Arsenal in St. Petersburg. Such reports support the theory that Russia has finally introduced a long-awaited family of spacecraft, known as Liana, capable of providing electronic intelligence over both land and sea. Previously, Russia had used two specialized systems -- Tselina-2, and US-PM -- to intercept electronic signals from land and sea, respectively.

The new system could also accomplish the long-established political goal of consolidating the development of sensitive intelligence satellites inside Russia. Previously, the nation depended on KB Yuzhnoe in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine for the development and manufacturing of the Tselina-2 spacecraft. In communication with the publisher of this web site, Ted Molczan, a prominent satellite observer, reported that Kosmos-2410 was circling the Earth in a 170 by 360-kilometer orbit, which would be too low for most electronic intelligence purposes and too elliptical for practical radar observations. If Kosmos-2410 will not maneuver into higher circular orbit in the following days, its flight profile would resemble that of a photo-reconnaissance satellite, such as Kobalt.

As it transpired later, the launch delivered the Kobalt-M photo-reconnaissance satellite, the reincarnation of the Yantar-4K2 (11F695) spacecraft. Designed for 120-day lifespan, the Kobalt-M reportedly experienced problems with its flight control system and its main reentry capsule was sent back to Earth two weeks ahead of schedule on January 10, 2005. However after weeks of search around the landing area near the city of Orenburg in southern Russia, the Russian military concluded that the lander burned up in the atmosphere, as a result of the botched reentry.


2006 May 3: A new imaging satellite renewed Russia's dwindling reconnaissance network. The Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from Pad 2 at Site-16 of the nation's northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk at 21:38 Moscow Time on May 3, 2006. It successfully reached the orbit at 21:47 Moscow Time, releasing a classified payload, officially identified as Kosmos-2420.

A well-informed Kommersant newspaper described the satellite as a modified version of the Yantar-4K2 (11F695) satellite designated Kobalt-M. According to the paper, the launch of the satellite was previously scheduled for the middle of May 2006, however its pre-launch processing was accelerated in light of the decommissioning of the last US-PU electronic intelligence spacecraft -- reportedly the last Russian reconnaissance asset in the Earth orbit. A 6.6-ton Kobalt-M is developed by TsSKB Progress of Samara and mass produced by OAO Arsenal of St Petersburg, the newspaper said. The satellite is designed for 120 days of orbital operations. Kommersant predicted that upon the completion of its mission, Kobalt-M would be replaced by the Don spysat, also known as Orlets-1.

The NORAD radar found Kosmos-2420 in the 167 by 337-kilometer orbit with the inclination 67.15 degrees toward the Equator, which is consistent with the orbital parameters of the Kobalt and Yantar-4KS-type satellites. It received international designation 2006-017A.


2006 July 21: Russia launched a military payload from its Northern Cosmodrome. A four-stage Molniya rocket lifted off from Plesetsk, carrying a military satellite, officially identified as Kosmos-2422. According to the official Russian sources, the payload successfully separated from the fourth stage of the launch vehicle at 09:16 Moscow Time. The mission most likely carried the Oko early-warning satellite, normally injected into highly elliptical orbit, where it works in conjunction with geostationary early warning satellites launched by the Proton rockets from Baikonur Cosmodrome.


2006 Sept. 14: The Soyuz-U rocket blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 31 at 17:41 Moscow Time on September 14, 2006. The launch vehicle carried a classified military payload, which successfully reached the orbit, according to the representative of the Russian Space Forces, KVR, Alexei Kuznetsov, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

According to Ivan Safronov, the expert on the military space systems, this mission marked the eighth and likely last launch of the 17F12 Don reconnaissance satellite, also known as Orlets. The spacecraft of this type, first introduced on July 18, 1989, apparently provides wide-angle detailed images, which are stored on multiple rolls of film and then can parachute to Earth on demand onboard as many as eight retrievable film capsules. The Don spacecraft was to be replaced by a new generation satellites, which would be capable of transmitting high-resolution imagery over radio. The mission received official designation Kosmos-2423.

After around two months in orbit, on November 18, 2006, independent observers detected multiple debris in place of the satellite, apparently resulted from a self-destruct command. However, on November 20, 2006, information service of the Russian space forces denied reports that the spacecraft malfunctioned. According to the space forces, the satellite has completed its mission and conducted braking maneuver to reenter the Earth atmosphere on commands from the ground. Independent observes believed that all eight retrievable capsules onboard the satellite were released in the course of the mission.

2007 June 7: The Russian military launched its first military payload Thursday, from nation's northern cosmodrome. The Soyuz-U rocket lifted off from Plesetsk on June 7, 2007, at 22:00 Moscow Time, (18:00 GMT) carrying a classified military payload, identified as Kosmos-2427 in the official Russian sources.

Based on information from the US radar, the satellite was circling the Earth in the 180 by 360-kilometer orbit with the inclination 67.15 degrees toward the Equator. Orbit parameters match those of optical reconnaissance satellites, identified in the open Russian press as Kobalt-M. According to various sources, the satellite is designed for 60-120-day operational life span and uses reentry capsules to deliver film with the images of the Earth surface.

Following the previous launch of the Kobalt-M satellite, which took place on May 3, 2006, the commander of space forces, KVR, Col-Gen Vladimir Popovkin, promised to launch one satellite of this type annually.

In the aftermath of the latest launch, emergency crews on Russia's Yamal Peninsula were searching for the stage of the Soyuz U rocket, the Russian official news agency ITAR-TASS reported. The stage reportedly impacted 60-80 kilometers from the settlement of Yar-Sale, as planned. On the eve of the launch, 65 people were evacuated from this sparsely populated area.


2007 Oct. 23: Russian space forces launched a military satellite Tuesday from Northern Cosmodrome in Plesetsk.

A four-stage Molniya-M rocket lifted off on October 23, 2007, at 08:39 Moscow Time, carrying a classified military payload into orbit. After reaching the initial parking orbit, the 2BL upper stage of the launch vehicle was then expected to maneuver the satellite into highly elliptical orbit.

According to the official statement, Russian space forces successfully established communications with the new satellite at 10:15 Moscow Time. In accordance with a traditional practice for the military payloads, the spacecraft was officially identified only as Kosmos-2430. However it is known that over the years Molniya rocket had been used to deliver Oko ("eye") series of satellites, providing Russian military with the early warning information about missile launches around the world.


2007 Dec. 9: Russia successfully delivered a classified payload for the nation's armed forces, the official media reported, likely a Raduga-1 comsat.


2008 June 27: The Proton-K with Block DM upper stage rocket blasted off Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on June 27, 2008, at 03:59 Moscow Time, the official Russian ITAR-TASS news agency reported. According to the Russian Space Forces, VKS, the launch went as scheduled and at 04:06:30 Moscow Time, the vehicle established radio-contact with ground control. The separation between the payload and the upper stage was scheduled for 10:37 Moscow Time on June 27, 2008.

Although the nature of the payload in this mission was not officially announced prior to launch, the Proton rockets were long known to deliver two types of military satellites: the communications and early-warning satellites. Both are delivered into geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth surface. Following this launch, however, the semi-official Interfax news agency quoted Aleksei Kuznetsov, secretary of Defense Minister confirming that the purpose of the launch was to replenish the SPRN early-warning system. The network is known to employ 71Kh6 satellites equipped with infra-red sensors to detect exhaust plumes of missiles.


2008 July 27: After a one-day delay by technical problems, the Soyuz-2-1b rocket flew its first mission from Plesetsk with a new-generation military satellite. According to the official Russian press, the launch vehicle lifted off on July 26, 2008, at 22:31 Moscow Time, carrying a military satellite designed to work for seven years. According to unofficial reports, the satellite belonged to the new Persona series of optical photo-reconnaissance satellites.


2008 Nov. 14: Russian military launched a secret payload from the nation's northern launch site, official media said. The Soyuz-U rocket lifted off from Plesetsk on Nov. 14, 2008, at 18:50 Moscow Time and successfully delivered its payload into orbit nine minutes later, the representative of the Russian space forces said. The spacecraft was officially identified as Kosmos-2445. It is believed to be Kobalt-M optical reconnaissance satellite developed by TsSKB Progress in Samara and manufactured by KB Aresenal in St. Petersburg. The spacecraft was deorbited on Feb. 23, 2009.


2008 Dec. 2: Russian military launched a military payload from the nation's northern launch site, the official media reported. The Molniya-M rocket lifted off from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Dec. 2, 2008, at 08:00 Moscow Time. The classified payload received an official name Kosmos-2446. A Western radar detected the satellite in the 518 by 39,048-kilometer orbit with an inclination 62.835 degrees toward the Equator. The spacecraft is believed to be an Oko early-warning satellite.


2009 April 29: Russia launched an imaging reconnaissance spacecraft from its northern cosmodrome. According to the official Russian media, the Soyuz-U rocket lifted off from launch Pad 2 at Site 16 in Plesetsk on April 29, 2009, at 20:58 Moscow Time, carrying a classified satellite designated Kosmos-2450. The spacecraft successfully established contact with ground control at 21:08 Moscow Time, a representative of the Russia's space forces said. Based on the fact the the satellite circled the Earth in the 179 by 360-kilometer orbit with the inclination 62.1 degrees, it was believed to be the fourth satellite in the Kobalt-M series.


2009 Nov. 21: First Lotos-S takes off. Russia launched a classified payload, apparently introducing a new family of electronic intelligence satellites.


2010 Sept. 8: Russia launched a converted ballistic missile with a satellite trio from the nation's northern launch site. The Rockot booster lifted off from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Sept. 8, 2010, at 07:30 Moscow Time. The vehicle carried a Gonets-M No. 12 spacecraft for the Gonets-D1M network, along with two classified payloads - Kosmos-2467 and 2468 -- possibly belonging to the Rodnik series of military satellites. Payloads were scheduled to separate from the Briz-KM upper stage at 09:14 Moscow Time, while vehicles would be in the range of the Russian ground control stations, according to a Russian space forces spokesman. Russian space agency, Roskosmos, qualified the launch as a success. This launch was previously expected on Dec. 28, 2009, and was later delayed to February, March and Sept. 4, 2010.


2010 Sept. 30: Russia launched a classified payload into Earth orbit, most likely an early-warning satellite to watch incoming ballistic missile launches. A Molniya-M rocket, reportedly the last in the legendary family of space vehicles, lifted off from Russia's northern launch site in Plesetsk on Sept. 30, 2010, at 21:01 Moscow Time. Lt. General Oleg Ostapenko, the commander of the Russian space forces, traveled to Plesetsk on the eve of the launch to personally witness the event, the official Russian media said. According to a representative of the Russian space forces, the liftoff went as planned and the payload was scheduled to reach its target orbit at 21:57 Moscow Time. Russian ground network started tracking the vehicle. Upon reaching the orbit, the payload received an official designation Kosmos-2469. According to space forces, the goal of the mission was to replenish Russian military satellite constellation. Traditionally, Molniya-M rockets were used to deliver Oko (eye) early-warning satellites into highly-elliptical orbits.


2013 Jan. 15: Russia opened a record of space launches in 2013 with a liftoff of a converted ballistic missile carrying a trio of military satellites Tuesday. A Rockot booster equipped with a Briz-KM upper stage lifted off from Pad No. 3 at Site 133 in Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Jan 15, 2013, at 20:25 Moscow Time. The vehicle was carrying a trio of military communications satellites for a constellation believed to be designated Rodnik-S.


This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak

Last update: October 30, 2014

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PICTURE GALLERY

Projects of the satellites for the Global Television Reconnaissance, TGR, system equipped with nuclear-powered generator (top) and traditional solar panels (bottom) and designed to provide real-time imagery. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


One of the early concepts of the Yantar reconnaissance satellite. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


Artist rendering of the Yantar reconnaissance spacecraft in orbit. Two retrievable capsules can be seen on the sides of the satellite. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


A retrievable capsule of the Yantar/Kobalt-type reconnaissance satellite.


A scale-model of the imaging spacecraft, apparently Neman-type.


The early version of the Oko early-warning spacecraft carrying multiple telescopes. Copyright © 2001 by Anatoly Zak


Scale model of the 2nd-generation geostationary Oko-type early-warning spacecraft from the SPRN system. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


The Molniya-2 satellites were used for military communications. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


Early concept of the Pchela spacecraft designed for military communications. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


Strela-1

Clusters of five Strela-1 satellites tested military personal communications system.


The Strela spacecraft are used for military communications. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


Strela-2M

Artist rendering of Strela-2M communications satellite. Credit: ISS Reshetnev


Tsyklon

Tsyklon was the first Soviet navigation satellite and it also carried communications functions. Credit: ISS Reshetnev


The Altair communications satellite used to relay data from other military and civilian spacecraft to the ground control stations. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The artist rendering of DS-P1-Yu spacecraft for radar calibration. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


The artist rendering of the Taifun-1B (Yug) spacecraft for radar calibration. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


The artist rendering of the Duga-K spacecraft for radar calibration. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


The artist rendering of the Taifun-2 spacecraft for radar calibration. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


The artist rendering of the Koltso spacecraft deploying targets for radar calibration. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


The artist rendering of the Taifun-3 spacecraft. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe


The conceptual model of the maneuverable spacecraft, which could be used as anti-satellite weapon or a missile interceptor. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


Strela-2M

The Strela-2M ("Arrow") military communications satellite. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2009 Anatoly Zak


Potok

An experimental Potok (Stream) spacecraft for the Rassvet global command and relay system was launched on May 18, 1982, with a mission to relay data between military satellites and ground stations. Credit: ISS Reshetnev


Lotos

The Lotos electronic intelligence satellite. Credit: TsNIRTI


Kondor

The Kondor radar-carrying satellite. Copyright © 2002 Anatoly Zak


Kondor

A Kondor remote-sensing satellites (radar imaging - top; and optical - bottom) could have a dual use - military and civilian. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


GLONASS-K

A new version of Russia's global positioning satellite, known as GLONASS-K, was to be introduced in 2010 with the launch on the Soyuz rocket from Plesetsk, but the mission slipped to 2011 at very end of 2010. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak


Imint

A proposed Arkon-Viktoria reconaissance satellite, which would be based on RKK Energia's Viktoria/Yamal platform and NPO Lavochkin's Arkon imaging system. Credit: RKK Energia

Rodnik

From 2005, Russian military has been deploying the Rodnik communications network. Copyright © 2013 Anatoly Zak