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Meridian Satellite
Launch site: Plesetsk
Launch date: May 22, 2009

Plesetsk Emblem

The launch time is:
01:53 Mocsow DST 22.05.2009
21:53 UTC May 21, 2009
4:53 p.m. EDT May 21, 2009

Payload: Meridian military communications satellite

Spacecraft: Meridian (14F112) (meaning Meridium)

The available images vary:

Manufacturer: JSC "Information Satellite Systems Reshetnev Company"

Meridian series satellites serve as a part of the United System of Satellite Communications 2nd generation (USSC-2) used by various governmental agencies of Russia, including the armed forces. Placed in a Molniya orbit, it provides high latitude transponder coverage, while Raduga class satellites residing in the GEO, provide global coverage. Meridian is viewed upon as a replacement for the older Molniya-3 spacecraft class.

It is believed to have a pressurized hull part and overall design similar to Uragan-M class satellites that are currently employed as the mainstay of the GLONASS navigation system. Unlike Molniya series that only worked in the solar-facing attitude, the Meridian has full 3-axis stabilisation and rotating solar arrays.

Meridian satellites reside in Molniya orbits (900 km x 39000 km; 65°)

Launcher: Soyuz-2-1A with Fregat upper stage

“Soyuz-2” launch vehicle is a current generation R-7 family launch vehicle. It is a replacement for “Soyuz-U”, “Soyuz-FG” and “Molniya-M” launch vehicles. “Soyuz-2” launch vehicle with “Fregat” upper stage can launch spacecrafts to various orbits: low, medium, high elliptical, sun-synchronous, GTO and GSO. Its main distinctions from the Soyuz-FG are new injectors on Stage I-II eniges, a digital flight control system, digital data downlink, deorbitable stage III and a new payload fairing. It's capable of launches from modified R-7 launch complexes.

Manufacturer: Samara Space Centre

Spec Spec Value
Number of stages 3
Liftoff mass 312 tonnes
Maximum length 46.3 m
Nose Fairing diameter 2.7 m; 3.0 m; 3.3 m; 3.715 m; 4.11 m

It can deliver up to 6830 kg of payload into 220*220 km circular orbit with inclination of 62.8° when launched from Plesetsk.

The upper stage: Fregat (meaning Frigate)

Manufacturer: NPO Lavochkin

The dry mass of a Fregat (as of October 2006) is 924 kg; with fuel the mass is up to 5350 kg. Current modification of the main engine has a specific impulse of 332 s and a thrust of 2018 kg. The reaction control system includes 12 engines, each having 5 kg thrust, 225 s Isp, using pure hydrazine, with mass up to 42 kg.

The vehicle's reliability statistics according to

Vehicle Successes/Tries Realzd
Soyuz 2-1a/Fregat 2 2# 1.00 .75  2 None 2006-

Launch Profile

A picture of the previous Meridian satellite launch on Dec 24, 2006

After a 9 min long boosting stage, the payload assembly is put into 62.8° inclined initial orbit with mean altitude of 210 km. After a 15 min long coasting, a second Fregat's 613 seconds long burn puts the payload into a transfer orbit. After reaching the apogee, the orbit's shape is finalized.

Weather forecast for Plesetsk, Russia on May 21, 2009

Hi: 18°
Lo: 8°
There is a 0% chance of precipitation. Partly cloudy. Mild. Temperature of 18°C. Winds S 16km. Humidity will be 43% with a dewpoint of 5° and feels-like temperature of 18°C.

Watching the launch live
None available, sorry.


A successful launch of Meridian satellite has been reported by Russian Space Force. The launch occurred on time off the Soyuz Launch Complex 4 at the site 43 of Plesetsk Cosmodrome:

The spacecraft separation was reported at 04:13 Moscow Local Time (00:13 UTC on May 22, 2009).

NORAD is tracking two objects in the similar orbit, it appears that Meridian is NORAD# 35008, in 276 x 36 474 km orbit with inclination of 62.836° and period 10h 45m 56s (645.93 min).

The orbit looks funny in Orbitron, as it's expected for Molniya orbits:

---------- Post added at 11:54 ---------- Previous post was at 11:48 ----------

The launch video (unfortunately, Rutube won't embed here, so please follow the link). The sight is worthy of listening through the first part.

---------- Post added at 14:26 ---------- Previous post was at 11:54 ----------

Official messages aside, it looks like we've got here at least a partial failure situation.

During the past Meridian launch:

  • the reached target orbit was about 39500 x 1009 km
  • the time from launch till the spacecraft's separation was around 7 hours in total.
During the current Meridian launch, according to the NORAD elset at epoch 2009-05-22 05:55:41 for the Object A:
  • the orbit is 36473 x 275 km
  • the time from launch till the spacecraft's separation was 2.5 hours.
This gives about 114 m/s Delta V lacking for the intended working orbit. Combined with the information of the possible premature Fregat separation, it looks very much like the Fregat's failure shortly before the end of the perigee burn (so severe they had to jettison the thing)!

It's not very much clear if the spacecraft possesses the necessary Delta V reserve or if it's OK for it to function in the orbit it's in.Nevertheless, here are several launch pictures made by observers from distance.

As was seen from Pertrozavodsk (the view across the Onega lake):

As was seen from Vologda (with better optics, evidently):

There are also reports of this launch being visible from Moscow as well (I'm really sorry that I've missed the show).

---------- Post added at 17:40 ---------- Previous post was at 14:26 ----------

As the latest news go, the third stage of the Soyuz LV has cut off 3 seconds short of the intended MECO. The Fregat tried as hard as it could to deliver the payload to the bulls eye, but simply ran its tanks dry trying. I guess the sat is still useful for providing the communication services for ships and airplanes in Arctics, although it may have a reduced lifetime.

 It looks like the satellite's controllers are raising its perigee by a hair at a time:

And here's one more launch picture, this time taken in Moscow:

The preliminary conclusion on the failure cause is like the following:

The problem was caused by incorrect input of the payload data into the Fregat upper stage's flight program due to discrepancy of communications between Contractor and Customer. This has caused overconsumption of propellant during the 1st and 2nd Fregat's burns. The 2nd burn cut off preliminary at the low fuel sensor's action. This emergency situation automatically triggered payload separation, which is what happened.

Meanwhile, two tiny burns were performed up to date in attempt to make the satellite's orbit closer to the intended values;

As the wording of what I read went, there was no difference in the Fregat's propellant reserve. The only tuning they did was altering values in the upper stage's flight computer's program, and the values put in did not suit the actual payload.

I can only wonder actually what values might have been there. A closest approach may be thinking that Fregat's engine supports burning at different thrust levels, each one having it's own ISP. And they've burnt out too much in the first two burns. I am not sure of this, though.

The top question currently is whether it was Customer who supplied the wrong data to the Contractor or the Contractor's problems with hearing or vision. I don't know if they are going to leak out any more information, or, to everybody's surprise, release something officially.

The official line is that the satellite is launched, period.

SOURCE: Posted and researched by SiberianTiger

 Meridian Launch Viewed from Kazan
Летающее что-то 
May 22, 2009

A video of the rocket flying and the contrail left by the launch, filmed in Kazan
Youtube Link
UFO/Missile Test Over China - June/July 2010?
Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
Carrier Rocket Soyuz-U - Cargo Ship Progress M-06M

Youtube Link

This originally came from this link: but the server was slow. I am not sure whether this is the same object which caused the disruption over Xiaoshan Airport.

UFO Closes China's Xiaoshan Airport!
How many more of these will we see?

Other people have identified this video as being of a missile test over Khazakstan:

Uploaded on Jul 10, 2010
This is from RT:-

On Wednesday night in the sky over the capital city of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan appeared an unidentified flying object, which later disappeared in a bright flash. Experts in the space industry was assured that this incident has nothing to do with the launch of a rocket Baikonur. According to eyewitnesses, the UFO remotely resembled a comet. He moved, leaving behind a glowing trail in the sky, reports RIA Novosti . After some time, an explosion, and on-site by an unknown object have only a silver cloud. It can be observed with the naked eye for about an hour. Note that the unusual phenomenon coincided with the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the carrier rocket Soyuz-U. It must deliver to orbit cargo ship Progress M-06M " . According to experts, the appearance of UFOs over Bishkek and missile launch does not interconnected.


Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
Carrier Rocket Soyuz-U - Cargo Ship Progress M-06M 

Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
Soyuz-U - Progress M-06M

.Filled with trash and discarded items, the unpiloted ISS Progress 38 supply vehicle departs from the International Space Station at 7:22 a.m. (EDT) on Aug. 31, 2010. Russian flight controllers will conduct thruster tests with the Progress to gather engineering data until it is deorbited and burned up in Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Its departure clears the way for the arrival of the next Russian resupply vehicle, ISS Progress 39, which will launch Sept. 8 and dock Sept. 10, delivering 2.5 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 24 crew. Date: 31 August 2010.

Progress M-06M

The Soyuz-U rocket used to launch the Progress M-06M spacecraft was delivered to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in early March 2010. The rocket was manufactured by TsSKB-Progress at Samara.

The Progress was launched successfully on 30 June 2010 at 15:35 UTC. The cargo ship was loaded with 870 kilograms (1,900 lb) of propellant, 50 kilograms (110 lb) of oxygen and air, 100 kilograms (220 lb) of water and 1,210 kilograms (2,700 lb) of equipment, spare parts and experiment hardware.

The spacecraft reached a preliminary orbit of 193 by 241 kilometres (120 by 150 mi). A series of precise engine firings over two days guided the craft towards a docking with the International Space Station's aft Zvezda port originally scheduled for 2 July.

Source: Wikipedia Progress M-06M

Related Links:

Russian Rocket Launch
Caught on Film
November 02, 2010

Yekaterinburg seen today above the city flight rocket (PHOTOS)
02.11.10 09:47 02.11.10 09:47 Learn to discuss discuss in forum printable version pocket version
Yekaterinburg seen today above the city flight rocket (PHOTOS)

Yekaterinburg, November 02 (New Region, Ignat Bakin) - Glowing flying object seen today in the early morning by the inhabitants of Yekaterinburg. One of the witnesses, who described what he saw in the blogs, believes that it was a rocket Soyuz-2 "spacecraft" Meridian ", launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome.

As the correspondent of "New Region", the residents of the Urals capital describe the celestial phenomenon as a light blue long line with a wide trail. Gradually glowing boom with divergent triangular rays went from the north-west of the city to the southeast. "It had to be seen live!  A unique spectacle, similar to the slowly falling fireballs! "- Says the user under the name 'Ekamag'.

A missile flew over Yekaterinburg around six o'clock in the morning, her shining path could be observed for several minutes. One of the townspeople managed to capture the aircraft on his camera. Meanwhile, Federal Space Agency Official Reports of a successful launch from Plesetsk launch vehicle Soyuz-2 "spacecraft" Meridian "that runs in the interests of the Defense Ministry. According to information at the site office, the vehicle was launched today at 03.58 Moscow time and was in normal mode. "Estimated time of separation of the spacecraft from the upper stage" Fregat "- 06.13 MSK in the zone of radio visibility of ground" - the report from the Russian Federal Space Agency.

According to open press, "Meridian" - a series of dual-use spacecraft, which serves to link ships and aircraft ice reconnaissance in the northern sea route to coastal land stations, the expansion of satellite communications network of northern areas of Siberia and the Far East for the development of Russian economy. The first device in this series was launched on Dec. 24, 2006 launch vehicle Soyuz-2 ". Start of the second vehicle fired on May 22 last year.

Meanwhile, rescuers rush to calm the Urals - falling stages of the spacecraft, as often happens on the border of Perm and Sverdlovsk region after the launch of ballistic missile RS-18 Baikonur Cosmodrome, this time not forthcoming. According to news agency director Karpinski search and rescue team (that area Karpinsk traditionally been chosen as the site for the fall of the missile remnants) Michael Bastron, the trajectory of "Soyuz-2" is somewhat different than that of the RS-18, so the fear of falling from the sky of iron and other elements aircraft is not necessary. "As for the RS-18 - its run, I think, will be implemented next year", - said the rescuer.


Related link:

Originally posted by JimOberg from ATS Post ID 9849132

If you search google for Ekaterinburg UFO [or in cyrillic, нло Екатеринбург] you'll see a lot of similar images and videos -- and just as the article says, it was a routine rocket launch with over-the-horizon (pre-dawn) sunlight. Just like last December.

Sadly, the most recent bulava missile launches were not at twilight -- but either full daylight or midnight darkness -- 
so we didn't get the spectacular sky show like over Norway last December.

These UFO-like (how about we call them 'ufoids'?) apparitions depend a lot on coincidences of launch time and lighting conditions, with cloud cover also a factor, so they've been rare for decades --
but they keep happening.

I expect we'll see a video or two from the Urals soon enough. And this particular type of launch also res tarts its engines over south america, sparking mass UFO sightings in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay for decades, as well -- IF it occurs shortly after local sunset, which THIS launch isn't.

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