Russia’s Soyuz rocket has made its second launch in less than twenty-four hours, delivering a missile detection satellite to orbit Thursday in a military launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Soyuz lifted off at [10:46] Moscow Time ([07:46] UTC), placing the Tundra satellite into its planned orbit with the aid of a Fregat upper stage.
Tundra plays a significant part in Russia’s national security arrangements, monitoring the Earth for potentially hostile missile launches so the Russian Government can react as necessary. It forms part of the Edinaya Kosmicheskaya Sistema (EKS) or Unified Space System which is being introduced to replace the earlier Oko system that Russia inherited from the Soviet Union. Thursday’s launch deployed the third such satellite.
The Tundra satellites are being built by RKK Energia. They are built around the Viktoria platform, a satellite bus derived from a series of Yamal communications satellites developed in the late 1990s. Like their US counterparts in the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), Tundra satellites carry infrared telescopes that are used to detect and track heat sources that could be missiles launching and in flight. Optical and ultraviolet instruments collect complimentary data.
As well as detecting that missiles have been launched, Tundra’s sensors allow ...