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MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Final preparations are underway at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome for a launch of Russia’s Strela carrier rocket with a dual-purpose Kondor-E satellite, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Friday.
“The launch is scheduled for 07:43 a.m. Moscow time,” a Roscosmos official said.
Kondor is a satellite project that has been over twenty years in the making, seeing its first launch just last year for operation by the Russian military while Kondor’s export version known as Kondor-E is being offered to foreign governments.
Initially, the launch of Russia’s Strela rocket was expected to be made from the Baikonur cosmodrome on Thursday morning but was delayed for technical reasons.
The Strela launch vehicle, like the Rockot launcher, is a Russian orbital launch system capable of lifting light and medium payloads to low Earth orbits. It is based on the UR-100N Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, also known as SS-19 Stiletto. Strela is a two-stage liquid-fueled launch vehicle that uses the SS-19 MIRV-Bus to act as third stage (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) to inject its payloads into the desired orbits.
Kondor is a series of Russian earth imaging satellites carrying synthetic aperture radar or optical imaging payloads for use in military reconnaissance as well as civilian purposes. The Kondor satellites are developed and built by Russian rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya. The satellites are available as ‘Kondor’ for use by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces or other government institutions, and ‘Kondor-E’ for export customers.
The Kondor-E small spacecraft (SSC) with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is designed for collection, storage and transmission of detailed Earth remote sensing data in the microwave electromagnetic spectral band to ground data receiving and processing posts. SAR ensures round the clock and all weather survey of the Earth surface.
The spacecraft has a lift-off mass of about 1,150 kilograms, hosting a 350-Kilogram SAR payload consisting of a radar antenna with a diameter of six meters. The satellite is equipped with two deployable solar arrays that are mounted on a central body that also holds the radar antenna array. The design life is 5 years with a goal of 7 years.