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Sept. 24, 2015
Russian Rokot launch with three Rodnik satellites. Image Credit: Eurorockot
A Russian Rokot launch vehicle – with a Briz-KM Upper Stage – has successfully launched from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, carrying three Rodnik satellites along with potentially another – as yet unnamed – bird. The launch took place at 22:00 UTC on Wednesday.
Carrier rocket "Rokot" orbited three satellites for the Russian Defense Ministry
The Rokot’s latest mission was military by nature, as such little is known about the payloads. However, the Rodnik satellites are believed to be a version of the Gonets-M spacecraft.
Gonets-M or Rodnik satellite. Image Credit: Tsenki
The Gonets-M satellites – according to the Russian Space Agency – are intended to provide digital user terminal GLONASS positioning data, as well as electronic mail services. However, this is understood to be inaccurate, with Gonets-M having no role in the GLONASS operation.
The Gonets-M satellites are upgraded versions of the Gonets satellites, a derivative of the military Strela-3 satellite system. Rodnik satellites are believed to be the military version of the spacecraft family.
Artist's interpretation of the Rokot rocket launch. Image Credit: Eurorockot
Based on the Russian RS-18 (U.S. designation SS-19) Stiletto Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, the world first got a glimpse of the Rockot launch vehicle when it was launched from Baikonur in December of 1994. Designed to fill the gap between the workhorse Kosmos (1,500 kg to LEO) and Tsyklon (3,600 kg to LEO) vehicles, Rokot's payload capacity of 1,900 kg is perfect for launching two medium-sized satellites into Low Earth Orbit.
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Images, Video, Text, Credits: Eurorockot / tvzvezda.ru / Tsenki / Orbiter.ch Aerospace.