Russia Launches Arktika-M Meteorological Satellite to Monitor the Arctic

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — This morning, February 28, 2021 at 09:55:01 Moscow time, a successful launch of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Fregat upper stage and the Arktika-M spacecraft took place from the launch pad No. 31 of the Baikonur cosmodrome No. 1 on board. After 562 seconds, according to the processed telemetry information, the upper stage and payload separated from the third stage of the carrier in the normal mode.

In accordance with the flight sequence, after three starts of the main propulsion system of the Fregat upper stage, the Arktika-M spacecraft normally separated at 12:14 Moscow time and went directly into the Molniya-type working high-elliptical orbit with an apogee altitude of 37,400 – 39,800 km , perigee 600 – 3,000 km, respectively, and an inclination of 63.30 degrees. At 15:06 Moscow time, the propulsion system for stabilization, orientation and launch support will be launched to put the upper stage into the “withdrawal” orbit.

Upper stage “Fregat” produced by the Scientific and Production Association named after S.А. Lavochkin (part of the State Corporation “Roscosmos”) ensures the effective implementation of all tasks to launch one or more spacecraft into working orbits or trajectories departing from the Earth. The highest reliability, the possibility of launching from four cosmodromes, and, practically, ideal launching accuracy, give the Fregat upper stage an undeniable competitive advantage over world analogues.

The creation of a satellite system in highly elliptical orbits is necessary for information support in solving problems of operational meteorology, hydrology, climate and environmental monitoring in the Arctic region. Spacecraft “Arktika-M” will provide round-the-clock continuous monitoring of the northern territory of the Russian Federation and the seas of the Arctic Ocean, as well as relaying signals from the COSPAS-SARSAT system .

Spacecraft “Arktika-M” are designed according to the modular principle, taking into account the experience gained during the creation of spacecraft ” Electro-L “. They are based on the unified Navigator platform and have almost identical target equipment to the Electro-L satellites. The main difference is the way of solving the target problem – “Electro-L” conducts regular (with a frequency of 15-30 minutes) surveys of the Earth from geostationary orbit, and “Arktika-M” conducts a similar survey of the Arctic region of the Earth, inaccessible for observation from geostationary satellites “Electro -L “, being on the working section of the highly elliptical orbit of the” Molniya “type in the apogee region.

The new satellite will move away and approach the earth’s surface every day, allowing it to provide multi-scale images. Its speed will differ from the speed of rotation of the Earth, and the shooting angle will change continuously. When creating the equipment, the designers of the Russian Space Systems company (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) took into account that this would increase the risk of additional image deformations. Therefore, they used the experience gained during the operation of geostationary devices of the Electro-L series and introduced a high-precision measurement system that increased the accuracy of measurements and coordinate referencing.

The spacecraft “Arktika-M” is built on a modular basis:

  • The basic module of the service systems “Navigator” is the main structural element that ensures the functioning of the satellite at all stages of its autonomous flight. It is designed to adapt to a variety of payloads and work orbits;
  • complex of target equipment “Arktika-M”.

Scientific equipment :

Multi-zone scanning device for hydrometeorological support. Designed to obtain multispectral images of clouds and the Earth’s surface in the visible and infrared ranges within the visible disk of the Earth in the entire range of observation conditions and the issuance of digital information to the onboard data collection system.

  • Heliogeophysical apparatus complex. Designed for continuous acquisition of heliogeophysical data at orbit altitude in order to:
  • Control and forecast of solar flare activity;
  • monitoring and forecasting the radiation situation in the OKP and the state of the geomagnetic field;
  • diagnostics and control of the state of natural and modified magnetosphere, ionosphere and upper atmosphere.

The orbital constellation of the system at the first stage will consist of two spacecraft “Arktika-M”, alternately replacing each other in the working sections of the orbits, which will provide a continuous round-the-clock overview of the northern territory of the Russian Federation and the Arctic region of the Earth. Joint use of information from highly elliptical satellites “Arktika-M” and geostationary satellites “Electro-L” will solve the problem of quasi-continuous receipt of operational hydrometeorological data.