Russian Military Satellite Successfully Sent to Orbit
A Kosmos 3M rocket launches the German-built SAR-Lupe 2 satellite into space the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on July 2, 2007.
CREDIT: OHB-System AG.
A Kosmos 3M rocket launched from northern Russia overnight to place a military navigation satellite in orbit more than 600 miles above Earth.
The two-stage launcher lifted off at 0105 GMT Tuesday from pad 132 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The launch occurred at 5:05 a.m. Moscow time.
The mission's secret payload arrived in orbit about one hour later at 0208 GMT, according to the Russian Novosti news agency.
U.S. tracking data shows the satellite was released in a nearly circular orbit more than 600 miles high with an inclination of about 83 degrees.
The spacecraft was named Kosmos 2463 under the Russian military's naming system for defense satellites. Russian officials did not disclose any more details on the satellite's mission.
But the payload is believed to be a Parus navigation and communications satellite for the Russian Defense Ministry. The orbit reached during Tuesday's launch closely matches the operational locations of Parus satellites.
In a Russian media report earlier this month, the commander of the Russian Space Forces said the Kosmos 3M rocket will be retired later this year after a handful of final flights.
Kosmos 3M rockets have launched more than 400 times since the 1960s.
Tuesday's blastoff was the 10th Russian space launch in 2010 from Plesetsk and the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was the 17th launch to successfully reach orbit this year from sites around the world.
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