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Previous chapter: Raduga-1 communications satellite

Raduga-1M (a.k.a. Globus-1M) spacecraft developed at NPO PM design bureau (now ISS Reshetnev) in the Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk was designed for military communications and was intended to replace its predecessor -- Raduga-1. The program was largely classified with no images of the satellite released at the time of its deployment beginning in 2007. Several Russian sources indicated that the spacecraft was likely related to the original platform of the Ekspress communications satellite known as MSS-2500-GSO.

History of the project

According to an official publication of NPO PM, the first Raduga-1M version of the satellite, introduced in 2007, was "developed and built" by the organization. "The satellite is equipped with the advanced multi-channel repeaters operating in centimeter and decimeter-wave bands thus ensuring stable communications with mobile stations including some hard-to-reach mountainous regions," the NPO PM's publication said. (373) The onboard electronics complex for the satellite known as Tsitadel was developed at NII KP in Moscow.

In November 2013, the official RIA Novosti news agency reported that the Raduga-1M (GUKOS index 17F15M spacecraft, code name Globus-1M) was considered to be the third-generation military communications satellite, which was a part of the second-phase Unified Satellite Communications System, ESSS-2. It was capable of broadcasting in four frequency bands: L-, C-, X- and Ka-band, the agency reported.

Raduga-1M missions

2007 Dec. 9: Russia successfully delivered a classified payload for the nation's armed forces, the official media reported. A Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage lifted off from Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 9, 2007, at 03:16 Moscow Time (00:16 UTC). Four minutes later, as the launch vehicle was continuing a powered flight, the control center of the Russian space forces initiated tracking of the mission. The satellite successfully reached its intended orbit at 12:17 Moscow Time, while out of range of ground control stations. The spacecraft was expected to establish contact with the ground at 12:55 Moscow Time. According to the Russian media, the ground control did establish reliable contact with the satellite.

Official reports about the launch traditionally identified the spacecraft as Kosmos-series, providing no details about its mission. However the commander of the Russian space forces, Vladimir Popovkin, who oversaw the launch in Baikonur, told state-controlled TV Channel I that the mission was conducted within flight test program of a new-generation spacecraft. "This vehicle works in a wide range of waves and frequencies. It is designed to provide communications for armed forces, and other enforcement agencies, as well as in the interests of social development of our country," Popovkin said.

In the following day, an official publication of the Russian Ministry of Defense, identified the satellite as Kosmos-2434. It also reported that the spacecraft was equipped with multi-channel relay systems, operating in centimeter- and decimeter-range of radio waves, enabling reliable communications with mobile stations, including those in hard-to-reach mountainous areas. The satellite was based on Gorizont, Raduga-1 and Ekspress-A platform, the publication said. All these payloads were developed by NPO PM in Zheleznogorsk. Several weeks before the launch, the head of NPO PM Nikolai Testoedov told in an interview with the company's publication that during the remaining of 2007, six GLONASS navigation satellites and one spacecraft for the Ministry of Defense would be sent to orbit. Independent observers characterized the payload of the mission as the Globus-M communications satellite. Russian authorities previously disclosed the Globus-1 program, which could be a precursor for the Globus-M program.

An online Russian catalog of R&D contracts listed the development of the centimeter- and decimeter-wavelength range transponder designated 14 R60 for the 17F15M vehicle. The work was conducted by RNII KP design bureau under contract with NPO PM.

The launch profile of the mission did confirm that the satellite was heading to a geostationary orbit typical for Raduga and Globus series. The launch was apparently followed up to five firings of the Briz-M upper stage. Initially, an object, which appeared to be Briz-M with its payload still attached, was detected in the 274 by 4,992-kilometer orbit with the inclination 48.8 degrees toward the Equator. Another object originated during the mission -- likely a jettisoned external tank of the Briz-M upper stage -- was reported in the 416 by 35,534-kilometer elliptical orbit, whose inclination was already reduced to 46.5 degrees toward the Equator.

Three days after the launch, NPO PM design bureau released a statement confirming that it developed the satellite launched on Dec. 9. However, the organization identified the spacecraft as Raduga-1M. NPO PM said that the satellite had reached its intended orbit and all elements onboard the spacecraft had been successfully deployed.

Classified satellite heads to a likely "graveyard" orbit

In May 2013, a poster on the web forum of the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine hinted that the first Raduga-1M satellite failed in orbit, despite Western tracking data was still showing the spacecraft in stable position at 70 degrees East longitude above the Equator.

However beginning on June 18, 2013, radar data indicated that the satellite had started conducting small orbit-raising maneuvers to climb above its operational geostationary altitude. According to a Russian space journalist Igor Lisov, by the end of the month the satellite was already 140 kilometers above the geostationary orbit. As a result of a higher (and longer) orbit, its rotation around the Earth was no longer synchronized with the 24-hour rotation period of the planet that makes geostationary satellites appear "hanging" at the same point in the sky. The satellite, thus, shifted from 70 to 60 degrees East and would continue drifting further. Such behavior was a likely indication of an ongoing effort to send the spacecraft to a "graveyard" orbit at the end of its operational life span.

Given a 10-12-year design life span of contemporary communications satellites, including those built by ISS Reshetnev, the retirement of the first Raduga-1M after only five and a half years of operations probably took place much earlier than expected. However the same source that correctly predicted the demise of the satellite, also said that as the first satellite in a series, it had a guaranteed life span of only one year. In fact, the performance of the spacecraft reportedly prompted its military users to procure another bird for the series.

As of June 2013, reported plans of upcoming Russian missions expected the launch of a new Raduga-1M/Globus-1M satellite in September.

Second Raduga-1M mission

2010 Jan. 28: Russia conducted its first space mission of 2010, launching a military communications satellite. A Proton M rocket with Briz-M upper stage lifted off from Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome, on January 28, 2010, at 03:18 Moscow Time, carrying a Raduga-1M/Globus-1M military communications satellite. Western radar detected an apparent Briz M/Raduga stack in an elliptical transfer orbit with an altitude of 409 by 35,671 kilometers and an inclination of 46.48 degrees toward the Equator. According to the official Russian media, the satellite successfully reached its intended orbit, with the separation from the upper stage occurring at 12:19 Moscow Time on January 28.

The mission was originally expected in July and Aug. 28, 2008, and was later postponed to the Dec. 25-30, 2009, period. According to the Kommersant newspaper in 2009, the production of at least one Globus satellite was delayed by two years, leading to a litigation of the Russian Ministry of Defense with PO Polyot. According to the publication, the Defense Ministry demanded the return of 79.61 million rubles in overpaid charges and 126.4 million rubles in fines. Only with the mitigation of Vladimir Popovkin, Deputy Minister for Armaments, two sides reached a compromise, according to which PO Polyot owed Ministry of Defense 79.6 million and paid a symbolic 10,000 rubles in fines. (370)

Third Raduga-1M mission

Russian workhorse rocket successfully launched a classified communications satellite for the nation's armed forces Tuesday.

The official Russian sources confirmed that the launch of a Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage took place as scheduled on Nov. 12, 2013, 03:46:00 Moscow Time (6:46 p.m. EST on November 11) from Pad No. 24 at Site 81 in Baikonur.

Although the nature of the payload was not disclosed at the time of the launch, industry sources had previously indicated that the vehicle would carry a Raduga-1M (Globus-1M) communications satellite for the Russian Ministry of Defense. It was believed to be the third satellite in the Raduga-1M series.

According to the official RIA Novosti news agency, Major General Aleksandr Golovko, the commander of the Russian Air and Space Defense forces, VKO, personally witnessed the launch in Baikonur. The agency then quoted a VKO spokesman Dmitry Zenin as saying that the spacecraft was scheduled to separate from its upper stage at 12:47 Moscow Time on Nov. 12, 2013, (3:47 a.m. EST), or nine hours and one minute after liftoff. The Russian ground control network would then enter communications with the spacecraft at 13:02 Moscow Time (4:02 a.m. EST) on the same day.

On November 12, ISS Reshetnev officially confirmed that the mission had been carrying the Raduga-1M satellite developed by the company and declared the launch a success. According to ISS Reshetnev, the satellite deployed all its mechanical components, established correct orientation toward the Sun and maintained normal communications with ground control. The company's personnel was participating in the planned work to prepare the spacecraft for operational service, the company's press-release said.

The launch with Raduga-1M became the eighth mission of the Proton rocket in 2013.

Known milestones in the Raduga-1M launch on Nov. 12, 2013:

Milestone Moscow Time EST
Liftoff 03:46:00 6:46 p.m.*
Payload section separates from the 3rd stage of the launch vehicle 12:47 3:47 a.m.
Ground control enters communications with the spacecraft 13:02 4:02 a.m.
Briz-M upper stage payload avoidance maneuver 14:48:10 5:48 a.m.

*November 11


Next chapter: Meridian communications satellite


A complete list of Raduga-1M launches:*

  Launch date Time of launch** Hardware name Launch complex Launch pad Launch results
2007 Dec. 9
Kosmos-2434 (Raduga-1M/
2010 Jan. 28
Raduga-1M (8)/
2013 Nov. 12
In progress

*All launches from Baikonur on Proton rocket. The 11S86 version of the Block D upper stage was used.

**Moscow Decree Time

Article by Anatoly Zak

Last update: July 1, 2017

All rights reserved



Artist rendering of the Ekspress A spacecraft, which might be related to the Raduga-1M satellite. Credit: RSCC


An official depiction of the Raduga-1M satellite was likely posted in error by the manufacturer, however a basic platform of the satellite could be similar. Credit: ISS Reshetnev


The Proton rocket launches the first Raduga-1M satellite on Dec. 9, 2007. Credit: Roskosmos


The official footage only showed Raduga/Globus spacecraft encapsulated into their payload fairings, with no imagery revealing the spacecraft itself. Credit: Roskosmos


The rollout of the Proton rocket with Raduga-1M satellite in January 2010. Credit: TsENKI

Raduga-1M launch

Proton-M with Raduga-1M lifts off on January 28, 2010. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


A Proton rocket shortly after its rollout to the launch pad in November 2013. Credit: Roskosmos


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