Reports: Russia launches military satellite
Updated: 2006-07-21 14:38
Russia launched a military satellite Friday, a day after the launch of a
rocket carrying a European weather satellite was postponed indefinitely due to a
problem discovered minutes before liftoff, news agencies reported.
The military satellite was launched atop a Molniya-M booster rocket that
blasted off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, the ITAR-Tass news
agency quoted Space Forces spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin as saying.
There were no problems with the launch, but the rocket was to put the
satellite in orbit outside the zone where it could be monitored by Russian
tracking facilities, forcing officials to wait for it to move within range to
determine the success of the mission, Zolotukhin said.
According to ITAR-Tass, Russia has 94 satellites in orbit, including more
than 50 military satellites, but only 12 of those are still operational.
The Space Forces commander, Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, has said that the
military does not have enough reconnaissance satellites and that a program to
replace "old generation" military satellites with new satellites that will
function for 7-10 years should be completed over the next two years or so, the
agency reported. Russia's last military satellite launch was in May.
On Thursday, authorities indefinitely postponed the launch of a Russian
Soyuz-2 rocket that was to have put a European Space Agency weather satellite,
MetOp-A, in orbit. Preliminary investigations showed that a problem arose in the
rocket's ground support system at the launch facility in Kazakhstan, the
European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites said in
a statement posted on its Web site.