Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Meridian 1 Launched from Plesetsk

Following extract taken from articles on Russian MOD website, dated 25 December 2006. Translated by Old Crow and submitted to the Btown Monitoring Post Blog for information and interest.

Soyuz-2 rocket carries "Meridian" communications satellite into orbit from Plesetsk. Yesterday (i.e. 24 December), Russian Space Forces from "First State Test-Space Centre" at Plesetsk successfully launched a Soyuz-2 which put into orbit a Russian "Meridian" communications satellite. This occurred with the assistance of a "Fregat" booster stage at 18:32 Moscow time. The Chief of Information Services of the Space Forces, Colonel Aleksej Kuznetsov has reported that the on-board systems of the "Meridian" satellite are all working normally and it will be taken under control by the"Herman Titov" Main Test Centre which will direct/control its orbital flight. He also noted that the CinC Space Forces, Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin had highly praised the professionalism of the teams which participated in the preparation and launch of the space craft. The "Meridian" communications satellite, now in orbit, is destined to be used to provide communications for ships and ice-reconnaisance aircraft operating in the area of the Northern Sea Route, allowing them to be in contact with shore and ground stations and a wide network of ComSat stations in northern areas of Siberia and the Far East in the interests of economic development of the Russian Federation. The use of such satellites in a highly-elliptical orbit will allow the enhancement of exploitationary and technico-economic characteristics of existing means of communications and will add further to the number of usable frequencies and supplementary trunks/channels present and an increase in daily availability and reliability. "Meridian" is equipped with a multi-trunk relaying communications apparatus and can be used at the current time to supplement existing communications systems provided by the"Gorizont" and "Express-A" satellites.

From Jonathan's Space Report:
Meridian (2006-061A)

The first Meridian satellite was launched on Dec 24. Meridian, built by NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki, is a new communications satellite "designed to ensure communications of sea-going ships and ice reconnaissance planes in the area of the Northern Sea Route with coastal stations as well as expansion of the network of satellite communicationstations in northern areas of Siberia and the Russian Far East" (TASS). It was launched into a 278 x 39801 km x 62.8 deg `Molniya' orbit; the new series will replace the old Molniya-1 satellites launched from 1965 to 2004. Launch of Meridian was by Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat. The upgraded Soyuz-2-1a -on its third launch - put the payload section in a suborbital trajectory. The Fregat stage then fired to reach low Earth parking orbit, and once again to reach the Molniya orbit. At around 0930 UTC the second Fregat burn put the stack in a 278 x 39801 km x 62.8 deg transfer orbit. The third burn at first apogee, around 1530 UTC, raised the perigee to 1011 km and Fregat separated from Meridian at 1534 UTC.

This could be an interesting satellite constellation to monitor and we are interested in any intercepts/frequency reports. Send them to larryvanhorn @