Russia Regains Control of Newly Launched Monitor-E Satellite

Russian flight controllers have regained control of a small Earth-watching spacecraft that suffered a communications glitch shortly after launching spaceward Friday.

Despite a successful launch atop a Rockot booster from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT) on Friday, flight controllers lost contact with their Monitor-E satellite after it reached orbit, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

But hours later contact was restored and the spacecraft in good health, Interfax stated.

"A communication session has been held and control has been regained of the satellite," a source with Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, which developed Monitor-E, told Interfax.

According to the Khrunichev center, Monitor-E is an experimental satellite equipped with two optical-electronic cameras that will be used for remote sensing studies of the Earth.

Primary science targets for Monitor-E include surface mapping, studies of the effects of pollution, as well as monitoring of emergency situations, such as natural or human-caused disasters.

The 1,653-pound (750-kilogram) satellite is designed to fly 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth in a Sun-synchronous orbit for a mission lifetime of about five years, Khrunichev officials said.