A lightweight member of Russia’s Angara family of rockets launched its first orbital mission last week, sending a military payload into the air, according to reports.
The Angara 1.2 rocket launched on April 29 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, which is about 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Moscow, according to RussianSpaceWeb.com, run by Russian freelance journalist Anatoly Zak.
The success of the launch was confirmed by Russian state media, but with few details. State media TASS said the rocket was launched “in the interests of the Russian Defense Ministry.” The spacecraft has been designated Kosmos-2555 and is sending telemetry correctly, the ministry added in the report.
“The sleek and lightweight Angara helped us and successfully passed the test. I congratulate everyone involved with the successful launch,” Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, wrote on Telegram, according to a second TASS report dated March 29. april.
The satellite was launched into a near polar orbit. Its trajectory has been confirmed by the US Space Force, which found it tilted 96.5 degrees from the equator, in an initial orbit of 173 miles by 183 miles (279 by 294 km) in altitude.
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Subsequent observations, RussianSpaceWeb reported, “indicated that the stage had actually risen to an altitude of around 500 kilometers. [311 miles], likely simulating a future delivery mission to a higher orbit. The vehicle could then be deorbited over the Pacific.”
The Angara 1.2 can lift up to 3.8 tons (3.4 tons) into low-Earth orbit, RussianSpaceWeb claimed, a fraction of the estimated 24.5 tons (22.2 tons) of payload that the Angara heavy-lift rocket A5, who has flown three times, can transport into space. .
This is the second launch of the Angara 1.2 family overall, following a successful suborbital test of a modified version on July 9, 2014. The suborbital test carried a mass simulator on board which was placed in place of a payload.
Angara 1.2 launches are marketed by International Launch Services, a company that has historically announced trade missions for a variety of clients around the world.
Russia, however, is under numerous international sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, with space entities around the world dissolving many of their partnerships with Russia.