Russian military launches new surveillance satellite
BY STEPHEN CLARK
Posted: April 29, 2009
Russia launched a Soyuz rocket Wednesday carrying a covert military payload believed to be a spy satellite with a high-resolution optical camera.
The Soyuz rocket lifted off at 1658 GMT from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, according to Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
The launcher reached orbit and deployed the spacecraft about eight minutes later, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Russian military officials said the craft would be named Kosmos 2450, fitting with the defense ministry's nomenclature for military satellites.
Tracking data indicate Kosmos 2450 is in an orbit with a high point of about 208 miles and a low point of about 105 miles. The orbital inclination was reported as 67.1 degrees.
Analysts believe Kosmos 2450 is a Kobalt-class satellite with retrievable film canisters that can return imagery to Earth through a mission lasting at least several months.
Earlier Kobalt spy satellites were operated in similar orbits.
Wednesday's launch was the third Soyuz launch of the year and the 22nd space launch to successfully reach orbit in 2009.