By Jona Jaupi
RUSSIA has launched a new military spacecraft designated Kosmos 2555 into orbit around the Earth.
Using Russia’s new Angara 1.2 rocket, Kremlin officials launched the payload into orbit on April 29.
The launch took place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the town of Mirny, which is predominantly known for its diamond mines.
“From the State Test Cosmodrome of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation (Plesetsk Cosmodrome) in the Arkhangelsk Region, the combat crew of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces [VKS] successfully launched an Angara-1.2 light-class launch vehicle with a spacecraft in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defence,” Kremlin officials said in a statement.
“The launch of the carrier rocket and the launch of the spacecraft into the calculated orbit took place in the normal mode.”
“Two minutes after the launch, the Angara-1.2 launch vehicle was accepted for escort by ground controls of the Titov Main Test and Space Systems Control Centre.”
This is Angara 1.2’s first operational flight – and the first of three that are planned to launch in 2022.
One of those flights will be operated by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, and another will serve as a commercial flight for South Korea.
While not many details are known at this point, some experts are predicting that the spacecraft will be used as a radar satellite system in the war against Ukraine.
That is because the payload shares a naming scheme and satellite bus with two other spacecraft dubbed MKA-N 1 & 2, which were launched for that purpose in July 2017, according to Nasa Spaceflight.
Plesetsk Cosmodrome was founded on January 11, 1957, as a military site to test the R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile.
Since its creation, the Cosmodrome has launched the R-7 derived Soyuz, the Cosmos-3M, Rokot, Tsyklon, and now the Angara rocket.
This latest launch comes right after Russia’s space chief Dmitry Rogozin said the country will leave the International Space Station (ISS) for good.
Rogozin blamed the move on mounting sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly,” Rogozin told Russian media.
“I can say this only — in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”
Nasa has long relied on Roscosmos to blast its astronauts into space, though it will soon shift towards Elon Musk’s SpaceX for that.