Launch Updates - Analytical Graphics, Inc.

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New Launch: 2011 July 18, 0231 UTC
Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launcher: Zenit 3F
International Designator(s): 2011-037A
 
SSC Name Owner
37755 SPEKTR-R CIS


"Russia launched a long-delayed radio telescope Monday to help astronomers see deeper into supermassive black holes, obtain views of collapsed stars and better measure the influence of dark energy on the cosmos.

"It was the largest Russian-led space telescope to launch in two decades. The launch came a few months before Russia plans to send a probe to Mars in November on the country's first interplanetary mission since 1996.

"The 8,000-pound [3,600-kg] Spektr-R spacecraft blasted off at 0231 GMT Monday (10:31 p.m. EDT Sunday) on a Zenit 3F rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"The 20-story rocket rumbled into a clear morning sky at Baikonur, disappearing from view as it shed its kerosene-fueled first stage above the stratosphere.

"Less than 10 minutes after launch, the two-stage Zenit, supplied by Ukraine, placed the Russian Freget upper stage into a parking orbit a few hundred miles high. The Fregat stage fired twice to propel the Spektr-R satellite into a higher orbit reaching as far as 210,000 miles [338,000 km] from Earth, according to Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

"The Fregat upper stage released the satellite at 0606 GMT (2:06 a.m. EDT), Roscosmos reported.

"The craft's flight path will naturally shift due to the influence of the moon's gravity over the course of the five-year mission. It will take Spektr-R up to nine days to go around the Earth in its egg-shaped orbit.

"Spektr-R will next extend two solar arrays and unfurl its flower-like dish receiver antenna to a diameter of 10 meters, or almost 33 feet. It is comprised of 27 carbon fiber petals that take up to two hours to fully deploy.

"The Spektr-R satellite is one element of an international network of observatories in a project called RadioAstron. When linked with ground-based telescopes across the globe, Spektr-R will facilitate unprecedented views into black holes that form the centers of galaxies."

Source: Spaceflight Now, "Russian satellite on mission to peer inside black holes"

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