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Russian Military Launches Secret Surveillance Satellite Into Orbit

A Russian Soyuz rocket launched a top-secret military satellite designed to scope out other satellites in space on Monday (Nov. 25), according to government reports.

The Soyuz-2.1v launch vehicle brought the satellite into orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, which is roughly 500 miles or 800 kilometers north of Moscow, for the Russian Defense Ministry, the ministry said in a statement. The launch took place at 12:52 p.m. EST (1752 GMT or 8:52 p.m. local time).

"The spacecraft ... is launched into the target orbit from which the state of domestic satellites can be monitored," the ministry added. "The optical equipment of the spacecraft also allows you to take pictures of the Earth's surface."

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A Russian Soyuz 2.1v rocket launches a classified military satellite into orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russian on Nov. 25, 2019. The satellite can apparently track other satellites in orbit.

A Russian Soyuz 2.1v rocket launches a classified military satellite into orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on Nov. 25, 2019. The satellite can apparently track other satellites in orbit.  (Image credit: Roscosmos)

The spacecraft — whose name is not yet disclosed by the ministry or the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) — is now under control of the Space Troops of the Aerospace Force. As of today (Nov. 26), it is functioning normally, the ministry said.

This is the fifth time a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle launched in 2019 from Plesetsk, Roscosmos said in their own statement (which Space.com translated into English using computer translation). Soyuz-2 is the next generation of rockets after Soyuz-U, which underwent 435 launches from Plesetsk between 1973 and 2012, Roscosmos added.

Russian authorities chose not to give notice of the launch ahead of time, but they did issue airspace warning notices of "drop zones" for rocket pieces as stages fell away from the Soyuz, according to SpaceflightNow. Trajectory information from these notices suggest that the Russians planned to launch a satellite into a near-polar orbit, which allows (over time) the satellite to view practically the entire Earth after several orbits.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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  • Patriart
    One issue both parties agree on is WAR. Clearly the US has started Cold War 2 and is also attempting to gain control in other areas around the globe, and now in space. It thinks it can win anywhere using the old gunboat diplomacy strategy. No treaties, peaceful diplomacy or negotiations, just sanctions and wars. My opinion: Those days are over, the US is in serious debt and the entire economy is corrupt beyond recovery. The culture is fragmented and decayed, I had hoped Trump might work for peace but he did exactly what Bush did: give the crooks a major tax break, increase debt spending and start more warmongering.
    Does any sane intelligent person think Russia and China would really succumb to US gunboat diplomacy? Trump has declared war in space with Russia, a country that we purchase rocket engines from, and rides to the space station. As Pat Buchanan said in two famous book titles, Death of the West and Suicide of a Superpower, the US is creating a path to the garbage heap of history. In addition, it appears our only other choice is a gov’t controlled by socialists oblivious to debt, and who loves sexual deviants and baby killers. But they also love war mainly to benefit another nation that controls our foreign policy. Guess who that is.
    I can say much more but hope I have made my point, sadly I must say.
    Reply