Russia's military sent up a new-generation on Tuesday launched its new-generation Tundra satellite designed to restore Moscow's capability to detect, track and identify worldwide missile launches from space, russianspaceweb.com reported.
The payload blasted off at 0634 GMT aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a military facility in northern Russia's Arkhangelsk region, a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The defense ministry declared the flight successful in its statement after the launch. "All the required procedures and the Soyuz-2.1b space rocket launch were carried out as planned," the defense ministry said.
The launcher flew in the modernized Soyuz-2.1b configuration with an upgraded third stage engine and a digital flight control system. A Fregat upper stage was programmed to fire multiple times to guide the mission's satellite payload, believed to be the first EKS-class missile warning platform, into an elliptical Tundra-type orbit positioned over high latitudes, spaceflightnow reported.
The new orbiting constellation will be the first line of defense in a two-layered virtual barrier around Russian borders and will warn of impending missile attacks. Known as EKS for Integrated Space System, the network includes ground-based radar installations across Russia and a control center. It network is designed to replace the Soviet-era early warning systems inherited by Russia in the 1990s and fill gaps in the Russian early warning defenses left by the disintegration of the USSR, russianspaceweb.com added.
Satellites in the EKS constellation derived from the Yamal spacecraft, RKK Energia's first foray into the field of satellite communications in nearly three decades. The overall development of the EKS constellation was led by TsNII Kometa in Moscow, while RKK Energia in Korolev built the 14F142 Tundra spacecraft. TsNII Kometa also supervised the development of the main infrared telescope designed to detect heat signatures left by missiles, russianspaceweb.com said.
Russia did not release the satellite's orbital parameters or data on its specifications and capabilities, but U.S. military tracking assets indicated the spacecraft was placed in an orbit with a low point of approximately 1,626 kilometers (1,010 miles), a high point of 38,550 kilometers (23,953 miles) and an inclination of 63.8 degrees.
Russian authorities officially named the new EKS satellite Kosmos 2510, keeping with the country's nomenclature for defense-related spacecraft. The EKS satellites replace Russia's Oko early warning system, which had its last satellite launch in 2012.
RussianSpaceWeb.com reported the last Oko satellite failed in orbit in 2014, leaving ground-based radars as the Russian government's only way to detect incoming missiles.
Russia's Novosti news agency reported last year that 10 EKS satellites will be launched by 2018 to complete the space-based early warning network.
Tuesday's launch marked the sixth space mission to lift off from Plesetsk this year, and the fourth using a Soyuz booster. It was the 13th launch of the Soyuz rocket family in 2015, spaceflightnow.com said.
Watch the launch here