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Russia puts Kobalt-M military satellite into orbit

Soyuz-2.1a rocket ready to launch Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015

Soyuz-2.1a rocket ready to launch Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015. Image Credit: Russian Ministry of Defence

Russian Aerospace Defense Forces successfully launched the Kobalt-M photographic reconnaissance satellite on Friday at 6:24 p.m. Moscow time (11:24 a.m. EST; 15:24 GMT) from the site 43/4 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. It was the first Soyuz-2.1a rocket launch since the failure of the Progress-M27M mission on April 28.

“The spacecraft has been put into the designated orbit. The satellite separated in a routine mode,” said a spokesman for Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces, Col. Dmitry Zenin.

The satellite has established communications with ground control and is functioning normally.

“The telemetry link with the satellite has been established and maintained. All on-board systems are performing normally,” Zenin added.

Soyuz-2.1a rocket launches Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015

Soyuz-2.1a rocket launches Kobalt-M satellite on June 5, 2015. Image Credit: Russian Ministry of Defence

Kobalt-M, also known as Yantar-4K2M, is a high-resolution imaging reconnaissance satellite. It consists of a re-ignitable service module with two solar arrays, a large conical reentry vehicle with the camera, and two small spherical re-entry vehicles.

The satellite has a launch mass of 6.6 tons and is typically launched into a 105 miles (170 km) by 230 miles (370 km), with the inclination 62.8–67.2 degrees toward the Equator. The orbital lifetime of the spacecraft is up to 130 days. It is believed that Kobalt-M has a ground resolution of 0.98 ft. (0.3 m).

The launch, previously scheduled for May 15, was carried out under the general supervision of the Aerospace Defense Forces Commander, Lt. Gen. Alexander Golovko.

The Russian Ministry of Defence reported that after reaching its orbit, the satellite was designated Kosmos-2505.

The first Kobalt-M satellite was launched on Sept. 24, 2004, on a Soyuz-U launch vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Designated Kosmos-2410, the Kobalt-M returned to Earth on Jan. 9, 2005, after a 107-day mission. That flight, however, was not entirely successful – the satellite seemed to malfunction during the flight and then was lost after an earlier than planned re-entry.

The previous Kobalt-M mission, designated Kosmos-2495, was launched on May 6, 2015. The spacecraft landed on Earth on Sept. 2, 2014, in the Orenburg Region (Russia).

Kobalt-M satellites are developed by TsSKB Progress of Samara and manufactured by OAO Arsenal of St Petersburg.

The Kobalt-M series will be replaced by the electro-optical Persona reconnaissance satellites. The date of the upcoming Persona-3 launch will be determined next week.

Friday’s lift off is a second Soyuz-2.1a rocket launch by Aerospace Defense Forces in Plesetsk this year. In all, three rockets, (2 Soyuz-2, 1 Rokot), have been launched from Plesetsk in 2015.



Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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