Soyuz rocket launches Russian missile warning satellite


Staff member
A Soyuz booster and Fregat upper stage successfully carried a missile warning satellite into orbit Friday for the Russian military.

Launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in far northern Russia, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifted off at 0731 GMT (3:31 a.m. EDT; 10:31 a.m. Moscow time) Friday and arced toward the southeast.

A statement from the Russian Defense Ministry did not identify the payload, but information about the mission’s trajectory released in warning notices to pilots and mariners suggested the satellite was likely the fourth EKS, or Tundra, missile warning satellites for the Russian military.

The defense ministry said the spacecraft was launched into the targeted orbit, and ground controllers established stable communications with the new satellite. The spacecraft will receive the designation Kosmos 2546, keeping with the Russian government’s naming scheme for military satellites.

The satellite was expected to be deployed in an elliptical orbit ranging between approximately 1,000 miles and 24,000 miles (1,600 kilometers and nearly 39,000 kilometers) from Earth’s surface. The EKS, or Tundra, satellites fly in orbits inclined about 63.8 degrees to the equator.

Russia has launched four EKS-class early warning satellites launched on Soyuz/Fregat rockets in November 2015, May 2017, and September 2019. The new generation of EKS satellites replace Russia’s Oko series of missile warning spacecraft, the last of which launched in 2012.