The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) has successfully launched the Kosmos-2546 (Tundra No.4) missile warning satellite abroad a Soyuz-22.1b rocket on May 22.
The rocket lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Region at 10.31 a.m. Moscow time (07:31 UTC).
According to a statement released by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the launch of Soyuz-2.1B rocket and the injection of the spacecraft into the intended orbit took place as usual. This statement didn’t identify the payload but just said that the launch was “in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defense”.
Kosmos-2546 is the fourth satellite of Russia’s EKS (Edinaya Kosmicheskaya Sistema, “Unified Space System”) satellite system.
The EKS early warning satellites replace the older US-KMO and US-K satellites of the Oko programme. These satellites identify ballistic missile launches from outer space and complement early warning radars such as the Voronezh. This gives advance notice of a nuclear attack and would provide information to the A-135 missile defence system which protects Moscow, as well as other Russian missile defense and counterattack resources.
The first EKS satellite (Kosmos 2510, EKS-1, Tundra 11L) was launched on 17 November 2015.
This is the third launch of the Soyuz-2 medium-lift launch vehicle from the Plesetsk cosmodrome this year. The first launch of Soyuz-2 occurred on February 20. This mission was carrying a Meridian-M military communications satellite. On March 16, VKS successfully launched a GLONASS-M navigation satellite abroad the rocket.
Flight tests of the Soyuz-2 space rocket complex began at the Plesetsk cosmodrome on November 8, 2004. Over the past 16 years, 45 launches of Soyuz-2 launch vehicles of the modernization stages 1A, 1B and 1B were carried out from the northern cosmodrome.