Spaceflight Now Home


Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.

Russians deploy new military spacecraft into orbit

Posted: December 2, 2008

Russia launched a military reconnaissance satellite Tuesday morning into an elliptical high-altitude orbit from the country's northern space base, according to news reports.

The launch occurred at 0500 GMT (12 a.m. EST) Tuesday from Complex 16's pad 2 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in far northern Russia. The four-stage Molniya-M rocket reached its final orbit less than an hour later, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The Molniya-M rocket, a modified version of the Soyuz booster, was likely carrying an Oko-class early warning satellite to detect U.S. missile launches. Oko satellites circle Earth in egg-shaped orbits with high points about 25,000 miles above the planet.

The payload from Tuesday's launch will be called Kosmos 2446 under the Russian military's spacecraft naming system.

Tuesday's flight used a Molniya rocket from Russia's military stockpile. The launch could be the last mission for the storied rocket, which has flown about 225 times since debuting in 1964.

Russia previously announced that future military launches from Plesetsk will use Soyuz rockets.