Russia launched a Soyuz rocket through a veil of fog over the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Arktika-m satellite is successfully reached in its intended orbit after being launched from Kazakhstan’s. Soyuz rocket is the first spacecraft in a new program to monitor Arctic weather systems and relay emergency communications.
Arktika-M is also equipped with the GGAK-VE suite of heliogeophysics experiments to monitor space weather, derived from the GGAK-E complex aboard Elektro-L. This consists of a magnetometer to measure Earth’s magnetic field and sensors to detect and monitor charged particles in the ionosphere and solar radiation.
According to Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, the Arktika-M satellites will obtain color images of clouds and Earth’s surface in the Arctic. The Arktika-M satellites also host radio receivers and transmitters to relay information from weather stations and search-and-rescue beacons in polar regions, which are inaccessible to conventional geostationary satellites.
Soyuz begins its startup sequence about sixteen seconds before liftoff, igniting the four RD-107A engines of its first stage and the single RD-108A engine of its second stage at preliminary thrust levels. Over the next few seconds, the engines build up to full thrust, and once the countdown reaches zero, the launch pad swing arms open and Soyuz climbs away to begin the journey into orbit.
The Service arms are raised into position around the Soyuz rocket, with the TMA-09M spacecraft, after arriving at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad by train, Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Kazakhstan. The launch of the Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) with Expedition 36/37 Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineers; Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, and Karen Nyberg of NASA, is scheduled for Wednesday May 29, Kazakh time. Yurchikhin, Nyberg, and, Parmitano, will remain aboard the station until mid-November. Photo credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
According to the space agency, at the right orbit, the satellite will be able to monitor and take images of the Arctic every 15-30 minutes, which can’t be continuously observed by satellites that orbit above the Earth’s equator.
Roscosmos also said the satellite will be able to retransmit distress signals from ships, aircraft or people in remote areas as part of the international Cospas-Sarsat satellite-based search-and-rescue program.
Each Arktika-M satellite has a mass of about 2,100 kilograms (4,600 lb) and is designed to operate for ten years. Constructed by NPO Lavochkin, the Arktika-M spacecraft are based on the company’s Navigator platform.
The Fregat upper stage with Arktika-M 1 separated from the Soyuz third stage at T+plus 9 minutes, 23 seconds, followed soon by the first burn by the Fregat’s main engine to reach a preliminary parking orbit. Two more Fregat engine firings were expected to boost the Arktika-M 1 spacecraft into a highly elliptical, or oval-shaped, orbit ranging between about 600 miles and 25,000 miles (1,050 and 39,800 kilometers).The spacecraft are three-axis stabilized and carry a pair of deployable solar arrays to generate power.
Arktika-M 1 is the first of a new line of satellites designed to provide persistent weather data on Russia’s Arctic, home to economically lucrative natural resources, energy reserves, and an important region for Russian military operations. The Arktika-M satellites are built by NPO Lavochkin, the same Russian company that builds Fregat upper stages. A third stage powered by an RD-0124 engine ignited to accelerate the Arktika-M 1 satellite and a Fregat upper stage to near orbital velocity.
Original plans called for a pair of Arktika-M spacecraft to be launched, however Russia now plans to deploy at least five over the next four years. A follow-on Arktika-MP series is expected to begin launching in 2026.