20 Dec 2017 14:00

Russia to put new spy satellite into orbit in early 2018 - newspaper

MOSCOW. Dec 20 (Interfax-AVN) - An advanced reconnaissance satellite has been built for the Russian Defense Ministry as the forerunner of an eventual global constellation, the Izvestia newspaper said on Wednesday.

"There are plans to put the experimental vehicle into orbit in early 2018," Izvestia said.

The small-sized prototype has been designed by the VNIIEM Corporation, a leading developer of remote-sensing satellites, a source in the rocket-and-space industry told Interfax.

The launch was originally scheduled for October 2017 but the takeoff date was moved twice, first to November and then to December, to solve technical problems in the satellite. Recent checks uncovered additional defects, which pushed the launch date even farther.

"The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the satellite was designed but refused to elaborate. The VNIIEM Corporation also declined to comment on the current status of the satellite project," the newspaper said.

According to another source in the rocket-and-space industry, the satellite will be launched by a Soyuz-2.1v LV from the Plesetsk military launch site in the Arkhangelsk region.

The new satellite is compact and weighs only several hundred kilograms, which is considerably smaller than similar satellites in existence, the newspaper said. "Modern technologies enable such vehicles to film the Earth even with a sub-meter resolution. The satellite is being designed for the Defense Ministry; the Russian military will thus be able to deploy a fleet of satellites with global coverage in just a few space launches," the newspaper said.

The satellite project is mentioned in the VNIIEM Corporation's 2016 report. The corporation's plans for 2017 include "the launch of a small-sized experimental satellite." It is described as a remote-sensing vehicle.