RUSSIAN defence chiefs are preparing to boost their military capabilities with the launch of the new-generation Meridian satellite in the New Year.
Officials said the satellite would be taken into orbit on a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the first quarter of 2019. A source said: "The spacecraft is expected to be brought to Plesetsk in the coming months. After this, it will be prepared for the launch and will be brought to the orbit by the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket with the Fregat booster, which is scheduled for early 2019.”
The Meridian system is built for Russia’s Defence Ministry by the ISS-Reshetnev company which said it was fulfilling an order for four satellites.
A company spokesman said a second satellite would be finished next year, the third in 2020 and the fourth in 2022.
The operational satellites have an active service life of seven years but none of them has yet used up this term.
Russian military chiefs are increasingly looking to outer space for future defence planning and the Meridian launch announcement comes after plans for an ambitious base on the moon emerged.
Scientists said they planned to send robots to the moon to carry out the bulk of the work on the country’s proposed lunar base.