Encyclopedia Astronautica

Russian new-generation military 12-hour elliptical orbit communications satellite designed to replace the Molniya series. Operational, first launch 2006.12.24.

Given its military nature, details remain classified. However numerous (sometimes conflicting) images of the satellite had appeared in the Russian media. The satellite reportedly retained the traditional pressurized electronics compartment and was three-axis stabilized.

Development of a Molniya replacement began before the collapse of the Soviet Union, with NPO-PM Reshnetev proposing its Mayak design, and Lavochkin its Nord concept. Both of these were initially designed for launch by the Zenit-3. By 1990-1992 the Zenit-2, being built in the Ukraine, was no longer considered for Russian military launches. It was proposed to launch either Mayak or Nord by the new Rus launch vehicle, but development of this was not forthcoming. However advances in electronics meant that the satellite could be down-sized; and sometime in the late 1990's NPO-PM was evidently contracted by the military to develop a lightweight version of Mayak that could be launched by the existing Soyuz/Fregat launch vehicle. First launch was made in 2006.

Gross mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb).
First Launch: 2006.12.24.
Last Launch: 2011.05.04.
Number: 4 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Soyuz The Russian Soyuz spacecraft has been the longest-lived, most adaptable, and most successful manned spacecraft design. In production for fifty years, more than 240 have been built and flown on a wide range of missions. The design will remain in use with the international space station well into the 21st century, providing the only manned access to the station after the retirement of the shuttle in 2011. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Soyuz Russian orbital launch vehicle. The world's first ICBM became the most often used and most reliable launch vehicle in history. The original core+four strap-on booster missile had a small third stage added to produce the Vostok launch vehicle, with a payload of 5 metric tons. Addition of a larger third stage produced the Voskhod/Soyuz vehicle, with a payload over 6 metric tons. Using this with a fourth stage, the resulting Molniya booster placed communications satellites and early lunar and planetary probes in higher energy trajectories. By the year 2000 over 1,628 had been launched with an unmatched success rate of 97.5% for production models. Improved models providing commercial launch services for international customers entered service in the new millenium, and a new launch pad at Kourou was to be inaugurated in 2009. It appeared that the R-7 could easily still be in service 70 years after its first launch. More...
  • Soyuz ST Uprated Soyuz booster designed for commercial customers. Upgraded engines, modern digital avionics, reduced non-Russian content. Can be used with either Ikar or Fregat upper stages. The 'FG' was the military version. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • MOM Russian agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Ministry of General Machine Building (Moskva, Russia), Moscow, Russia. More...
  • Reshetnev Russian manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Reshetnev Design Bureau, Krasnoyarsk-26/Zhelenogorsk, Russia. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Zak, Anatoliy, Russian Space Web, (via Jonathon McDowell). Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Plesetsk Plesetsk was the Soviet Union's northern cosmodrome, used for polar orbit launches of mainly military satellites, and was at one time the busiest launch centre in the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union put the main launch site of Baikonur in Kazakh territory. It now seems that once the Proton rocket is retired, Baikonur will be abandoned and Plesetsk will be Russia's primary launch centre. Upgrades to existing launch facilities will allow advanced versions of the Soyuz rocket and the new Angara launch vehicle to be launched from Plesetsk. Plesetsk's major drawback was the lower net payload in geosynchronous orbit from a northern latitude launch site. However Russia is planning to remove the disadvantage by looping geosynchronous satellites around the moon, using lunar gravity to make the necessary orbital plane change. More...

Meridian Chronology

2006 December 24 - . 08:34 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/4. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz ST. LV Configuration: Soyuz-2-1A/Fregat 76033135.
  • Meridian 1 - . Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: VKS. Manufacturer: Reshetnev. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Meridian. USAF Sat Cat: 29668 . COSPAR: 2006-061A. Apogee: 39,093 km (24,291 mi). Perigee: 1,264 km (785 mi). Inclination: 63.4000 deg. Period: 717.80 min. Launch rescheduled twice due to Soyuz 2 software problems. The Meridian satellite was designed to provide communication between vessels and airplanes involved in ice surveillance in the North Sea area, and coastal stations on the ground, as well as to expand a network of satellite communications in the northern regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East.

2009 May 21 - . 21:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/4. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz ST / Fregat ST. LV Configuration: Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat.
  • Meridian 2 - . Nation: Russia. Agency: KVR. Spacecraft: Meridian. USAF Sat Cat: 35008 . COSPAR: 2009-029A. Apogee: 36,423 km (22,632 mi). Perigee: 328 km (203 mi). Inclination: 62.9000 deg. Period: 646.00 min. Summary: Secon Meridian communications satellite. Third stage cut off early. Fregat upper stage ran out of fuel during second burn, leaving satellite in useless orbit..

2010 November 2 - . 00:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/3. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz ST / Fregat ST. LV Configuration: Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat.
  • Meridian 3 - . Nation: Russia. Class: Communications. Type: Communications satellite. Spacecraft: Meridian. USAF Sat Cat: 37212 . COSPAR: 2010-058A. Apogee: 39,395 km (24,478 mi). Perigee: 957 km (594 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 717.70 min. Summary: Third military communications satellite in this series..

2011 May 4 - . 17:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/4. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-2-1A.
  • Meridian 4 - . Payload: Meridian No. 14L. Nation: Russia. Class: Communications. Type: Communications satellite. Spacecraft: Meridian. USAF Sat Cat: 37398 . COSPAR: 2011-018A. Apogee: 39,739 km (24,692 mi). Perigee: 968 km (601 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 724.90 min. Summary: Communications for the Russian Defense Ministry, and replacing the older Molniya satellites..

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