Russian Soyuz rocket carries Glonass navigation satellite into space – Spaceflight Now
A new satellite joined Russia’s Glonass navigation network with the launch of a Soyuz rocket on Thursday from a military spaceport about 800 kilometers north of Moscow.
The new Glonass satellite lifted off Thursday from the Plesetsk cosmodrome at 05:18 a.m. EDT (0918 GMT; 12:18 p.m. Moscow time), according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
A Soyuz-2.1b rocket and Fregat upper stage carried the Glonass satellite into its targeted circular orbit more than 11,900 miles (19,100 kilometers) above Earth, at an inclination of 64.8 degrees from the equator.
The ascent to this orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome took about three and a half hours. The Soyuz rocket flew southeast of Plesetsk, then jettisoned four kerosene-fueled first-stage boosters about two minutes into the mission. The launcher then released its nose cone and then shut down its main stage engine.
The main stage pulled away from the Soyuz third stage, which fired an RD-0124 engine until about nine minutes after launch. The third stage then deployed a Fregat upper stage for a series of burns to place the Glonass satellite into its targeted orbit.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the satellite was functioning normally after separating from the upper stage of the Fregat. Defense officials have named the new satellite Glonass Kosmos 2557, following the naming scheme for Russian military spacecraft.
The Glonass Navigation Fleet is Russia’s military version of the US Space Force’s Global Positioning System. The European Galileo and Chinese Beidou satellite navigation systems are also designed for global coverage.
The Russian military uses Glonass positioning signals for naval and air navigation and missile targeting. Glonass signals are also used by civilians.
The extent of use of the Glonass network during Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is unclear – some users may simultaneously incorporate data from the Glonass, GPS and Galileo networks for better position estimation – but the Ukrainian government asked for help earlier this year from volunteer hackers. to disable or degrade Russian technology infrastructure. One of the targets of the Ukrainian “IT army” was the Glonass system.
The new satellite launched on Thursday is the fourth spacecraft in Russia’s Glonass K series of navigation satellites, a new generation designed to operate longer and transmit more navigation signals than previous spacecraft.
The Glonass K satellites weigh around 2,060 pounds, or 935 kilograms, slightly less than the previous generation Glonass M satellites.
The Glonass K satellites are designed to operate for 10 years – an improvement over the seven-year design life of previous satellites – and feature five navigation channels, including a new civilian L-band signal. are lighter, generate more electrical power and are based on an unpressurized Express 1000K bus built by ISS Reshetnev in Zheleznogorsk, Russia.
The Glonass K spacecraft will also support the international Cospas-Sarsat search and rescue network, Russian officials said. The Glonass K satellite design also uses more Russian-made equipment than previous Glonass spacecraft, a change triggered by previous international sanctions against Russia.
With the launch on Thursday, the Glonass fleet consists of 26 active satellites, including 22 operational spacecraft and four more in commissioning or “maintenance,” according to the official Russian government website on the status of the Glonass network.
The constellation requires 24 satellites in three orbital planes to provide global navigation coverage.
Email the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.