Russian Rocket Launches German Reconnaissance Satellite

Russian Rocket Launches German Reconnaissance Satellite
Germany's SAR-Lupe 5 radar reconnaissance satellite launches into space atop a Kosmos 3M rocket from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Image credit: OHB-System AG.)

The capstone of a fleet ofGerman military satellites rocketed into space from Russia early Tuesday,completing a series of five launchings of spacecraft designed to scoutlocations around the world.

The SAR-Lupe 5 satellite, a1,700-pound craft (771-kg) outfitted with cloud-piercing and night-visionradar, launched aboard a Russian Kosmos 3M rocket at 0240 GMT Tuesday (10:40p.m. EDT Monday), according to news reports.

The 105-foot (32-meter) tallbooster tookoff from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a space base in far northern Russia nearthe Arctic Circle.

The rocket successfullyreleased SAR-Lupe 5 into an orbit 300 miles (482 km) high about a half-hourlater, according to OHB-System, the satellite's prime contractor.

The spacecraft carries alarge dish antenna connected to a powerful X-band radar system. The syntheticaperture radar signals can see through clouds and observe ground objectsaround the clock.

Optical reconnaissancesatellites are hampered by weather and darkness, significantly reducing theireffectiveness in spying on enemy activity.

Imagery produced by theinstrument will show objects as small as three feet, according to OHB-System.

The five satellites arespread among three orbital planes to provide regular global coverage,OHB-System officials said.

SAR-Lupe launches began inDecember 2006. Subsequent satellites were launched in July 2007, November 2007and March.

The German military, whichtook control of SAR-Lupe satellite operations in December, will use the systemfor the next ten years.

The SAR-Lupesystem is part of an international intelligence-sharing agreement betweenGermany and France. France will receive SAR-Lupe radar imagery and Germany willreceive data from the French Helios optical and infrared reconnaissance network.

  • Video: Europe Launches First ATV Cargo Ship
  • Gallery: Launch Day for Shuttle Endeavour
  • Images: 20 Great Rocket Launches

Copyright 2008,all rights reserved.


Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: Editor

Stephen Clark is the Editor of Spaceflight Now, a web-based publication dedicated to covering rocket launches, human spaceflight and exploration. He joined the Spaceflight Now team in 2009 and previously wrote as a senior reporter with the Daily Texan. You can follow Stephen's latest project at and on Twitter.