Russian military satellites successfully launched yesterday – Kosmos-2511 and Kosmos-2512 on orbit

Russian Ministry of Defense announced that launching of two satellites, Kosmos-2511 and Kosmos-2512, was ended with success.

Mission of two Kosmos satellites was firstly scheduled to February 2015. It was postponed to December 9th, but it seems that everything went more than correct and yesterday, on 17:03 Moscow Time, Satellites were launched. Both Kosmos-2511 and Kosmos-2512 satellites belong to series of Russian military spacecrafts designed and manufactured under contract with Ministry of Defense.

Kosmos-2511 (also known as Kanopus-ST) is weather satellite designed and manufactured by NPO VNIIEM. Its main objective is helping in ocean research and weather forecasting. Generally it is imaging satellite equipped with high sensing imaging equipment. It gives ability of taking pictures with a resolution of 2.1 meters (with swath of 20 kilometers) using onboard panchromatic camera, or with resolution of 10.5 meters (swath of 41 kilometers) when a multispectral camera is utilized. It is also equipped with BIK-GYa-1 radiometer for measuring temperatures, wind speed and water content in the atmosphere. Kanopus-ST weight is at 473 kg and payload mass is 108 kg; power consumption is 300 W. Satellite is equipped with 24 GB of internal memory and transponder operating on frequency 8,048 - 8,381.5 Mhz. Downlink is possible on two channels with speed rate at 122.88 - 61.4 megabits per second. Satellite is powered with onboard battery and deployable solar arrays and its operational life is at not less than five years. Kanopus-ST is first from constellation of six satellites, second will be launched in 2016. Kanopus-St seems to be dual purpose satellite for both civilian (weather observation) and military (detailed imaging and detecting submarines using onboard radiometer) goals.

Secondary payload is calibration satellite KYuA-1. It is sphere with mass at 15.8 kg attached to Volga upper stage. It is separated before prime payload will be injected into orbit. It is designed to help in calibrating radars of new anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems developed by Almaz-Antey Company for Russian Ministry of Defense.

Firstly during this mission Kosmos-3M rocket was scheduled, but due the retiring Kosmos, Soyuz-2.1v rocket was chosen. Volga upper stage, as usual during military missions, was responsible for injecting Kanopus-ST into elliptical orbit (670 km × 830 km with inclination at 98.7°). Soyuz-2.1v is latest variant of Soyuz rocket family (maiden flight on 2009); it is heavily modified Soyuz-2 rocket. Main and most visible difference is lack of any boosters. 2.1v is designed as two stage light carrier with optional upper stage. First stage is powered by one NK-33 engine. It is main propulsion of first stage, fueled with LOX and kerosene with thrust at (sea level) 1510 kN. Additional propulsion for vector control is provided by RD-0110R engine with thrust at 230.5 kN. Second stage is powered by one RD-0124 engine with thrust at 294.3 KN fueled with LOX liquid oxygen and RG-1. Rocket length is 44 m with diameter at 3 m. Rocket weighs at 158000 kg and is able to lift to LEO 2850 kg of payload. Upper stage Volga was designed in TsSKB Progress. It is able to move satellite with mass up to 1400 kg, with its hybrid propulsion, for 1500 km (mission duration should not exceed 24 hours). Volga was designed especially for launches from Plesetsk Cosmodrome as cost cutting version of Fregat upper stage.