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Molniya Launches Classified Satellite from Plesetsk

A Molniya M successfully launched a Russian classified satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Launch Pad 3 at Site 43, at 1134 UTC (4:34 a.m. PDT) on October 25. The Molniya M rocket is a variant of the Soyuz rocket family. The Molniya class satellite was placed in a highly elliptical orbit, with an inclination of 62.8 degrees, for the Russian Defense Ministry.

Reshetnev Center, Zheleznogorsk, builds the Molniya satellites. The satellites are used to transmit television and radio signals for both civilian and military users; however, this latest satellite is expected to serve the military. Molniya translates from Russian into English as lightning.

Molniya spacecraft orbit in elliptical orbits with an apogee as high as 40,000 km, over the northern hemisphere, and a perigee as low as 470 km over the southern hemisphere, with one rotation taking about 12 hours. This orbit results in the spacecraft slowly drifting over Russia, disappearing from view of ground control stations only for a short while. To provide uninterrupted communications over Russia several Molniya satellites have to be in operation. The most recent Molniya spacecraft was launched July 20, 2001.

 

 


Copyright 2001 - Andrews Space & Technology
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October 25, 2001

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