Spaceflight Now Home

Next Mars lander

The news media was invited into the cleanroom where the "Phoenix" lander is being readied for launch this summer bound for northern Mars to examine water ice. See a panorama showing the lander tucked into its Earth-to-Mars cruise spacecraft.


Spaceflight Now +

Subscribe to Spaceflight Now Plus for access to our extensive video collections!
How do I sign up?
Video archive

Atlantis heads home

Nine days after landing at Edwards Air Force Base to conclude the STS-117 mission, Atlantis begins its cross-country ferry flight back to Florida.

 Taxi | Takeoff

Dawn preview movie

Learn more about the upcoming Dawn mission that will use an ion engine propulsion system to visit two of the largest objects in the asteroid belt.


Complex 36 demolition

The two mobile service towers at Cape Canaveral's Complex 36 that had supported Atlas rockets for decades are toppled to the ground with 122 pounds of explosives.


Atlas 5's NRO launch

The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifts off June 15 from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 on the classified NROL-30 mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

 Full Coverage

Booster cameras

Hitch a ride up and down on the twin solid rocket boosters that launched shuttle Atlantis last week. Each booster was outfitted with three cameras to give NASA upclose footage of the vehicle's ascent.

 Full Coverage

Become a subscriber
More video

Kosmos 3M rocket launches German imaging spacecraft

Posted: July 3, 2007

A Kosmos 3M rocket launches SAR-Lupe 2. Credit: OHB-System AG
A German radar reconnaissance satellite vaulted into space from a Russian launch site Monday, beginning a mission to collect high-resolution imagery of nearly every location on Earth for up to ten years.

The craft is the second member of a five-satellite fleet of military spy satellites under development by Germany. A large X-band radar dish antenna on each satellite can gather precise images through clouds and darkness.

The constellation uses synthetic aperture radar technology, which sends radio beams toward the ground. The pulses are reflected back into space from Earth's surface, and a receiver on the satellite collects the data.

Specialists on the ground can turn the data into detailed images for use by the German Defense Ministry. Officials project the satellite's images will allow analysts to see objects smaller than one meter, or about three feet.

SAR-Lupe 2 was launched aboard a Kosmos 3M rocket at 1938:41 GMT (3:38:41 p.m. EDT) from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. After about a half-hour of powered flight, the rocket left the 1,700-pound spacecraft in a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 300 miles.

The blastoff was postponed 24 hours from Sunday due to unfavorable upper level winds, project officials said in a statement.

Plans call for the spacecraft to deploy its radar antenna in a couple of days, and the German military will take control of the satellite in a few weeks to begin imaging operations.

The satellite was built by lead contractor OHB-System, a company based in Bremen, Germany. A group of European aerospace companies manufactured the craft's radar system.

The SAR-Lupe fleet's first satellite was launched in December and remains healthy, according to OHB-System.

Three additional satellites for the system will be launched in four-month intervals over the next year. Officials expect the constellation to be at full strength by the end of next year.

The SAR-Lupe program is part of a joint agreement between Germany and France to share data from each nation's spy satellite system.