[FPSPACE] Did Meridian-2 fall short of target orbit?
jameseoberg at comcast.net
Sun May 24 10:46:43 EDT 2009
Jonathan's Space Report (http://planet4589.org/space/jsr/latest.html)
Meridian 2 -- Russia's second Meridian military communications satellite was launched by Soyuz-Fregat from Plesetsk on May 21 into a 290 x 36460 km x 62.8 deg
orbit. This is lower than the expected 1000 x 39800 km orbit. and suggests that the second Fregat burn was cut short and the third one did not occur. According to a report on the Novosti Kosmonavtiki forum, the third stage cut off 5s early; the Fregat tried to make up the difference but ran dry during the second burn.
TASS indicates that this launch will be given a Kosmos cover name, - it would be Kosmos-2451 - but Vesti and Interfaks give the Meridian name explicitly.
Looks like there was a problem with Meridian 2 launch
From: Kevin Fetter (kfetter at yahoo.com) Date: Sat May 23 2009 - 05:25:38 UTC
It says [see below]. I thought the perigee was too low, when I looked at the orbital data.
Launch of the second Meridian [????????] communication satellite
[May 22, 2009] On 22 May 2009 the Space Forces conducted a launch of a Soyuz-2.1a space launcher equipped with a Fregat post-boost stage, which delivered into orbit a Meridian military communication satellite. The launch took place at 01:53 MSK (21:53 21 May 2009 UTC) from the launch pad No. 4 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk space launch site.
The spacecraft received international designation 2009-029A and NORAD catalog number 35008. According to NORAD data, it was deployed in an orbit with inclination of 62.8 degrees, orbital period of about 645 minutes, apogee of about 36500 km, and perigee of 320 km. This is a highly-elliptical orbit, similar to those traditionally used by Molniya-type comm satellites.
Although the Space Forces reported today's launch a success, the initial orbit of the satellite is lower than the one of the Meridian-1 satellite, which has the apogee of about 39000 km and perigee of about 1270 km. Accordingly, the orbital period is less that it is required to maintain a stable semisynchronous orbit. This appears to be a result of a malfunction of the 3rd stage, which was cut off prematurely. At this point it is not clear how this will affect operations of the satellite.
Meridian-2 is a second satellite of this kind. The first, Meridian-1, was launched in December 2006. UPDATE: The satellite reportedly received a designation Cosmos-2451. It should be noted that Meridian-1 did not receive a Cosmos designation.
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