Meridian (satellite)

Meridian (Russian: Меридиан) is a family of telecommunications satellites for civil and military use developed by Russia in the 2000s placed in a Molniya Orbit and intended to replace the two last series of Molniya satellites still in activity, as well as the old Parus satellites. The first launch took place on 24 December 2006, aboard a Soyuz 2.1a. Seven satellites were launched between 2006 and 2014, six of which reached orbit. A second generation of satellite, Meridian-M was ordered, and the first unit was launched on 30 July 2019.[1]

Technical characteristicsEdit

This family of satellites was developed in the mid-2000s by the main Russian satellite manufacturer ISS Reshetnev who had already built the Molniya satellites. According to unofficial sources, the satellite uses 3 axes stabilized pressurized platform. Certain components like the on-board computer and the propulsion would be common with the Uragan-M satellites of the Glonass satellite navigation system. The manufacturer indicated that the satellites of the series have a mass of approximately 2000 kg, have orientable solar arrays and carry three transponders designed to work with the Raduga satellites. The lifespan announced by the manufacturer was 7 years.[2]

Orbit and useEdit

Like its predecessors, the Meridian satellites are placed in a very elliptical Molniya orbit of 900 × 39000 km x 63° which allows them to remain during a large part of their orbit visible from Arctic areas poorly served by geostationary telecommunications orbits. The launcher used is a Soyuz 2.1a with a Fregat upper stage which is launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. The satellite is for mixed civil and military use. Given their orbit, they are mainly intended to provide links with ships and planes operating in the Arctic Ocean, as well as with stations based in the Far East and Siberia.[3]

List of satellites launchedEdit

The first satellite in the series quickly fell victim to space debris according to the Russian authorities.

The numbering of the satellites is quite specific. The manufacturer ISS Rechetnev begins numbering its satellites at 11, the first numbers being reserved for test specimens. The letter L is attached to the number to indicate that it is a flying copy (лётный in Russian). Thus, the first satellite is called Meridian n°11L. Other sources such as the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive list them as simply Meridian 1, Meridian 2, etc.

Last update: 22 March 2021

Satellite Launcher/

Upper Stage

Launch time
(UTC)
Launch base Success COSPAR ID Notes
Meridian n°11L (1) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat

24 December 2006

08:34

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2006-061A Hit by space debris

First Meridian satellite in orbit.

Meridian n°12L (2) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat

21 May 2009

21:53

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

~ 2009-029A Partial Success : Perigee lower than planned.
Meridian n°13L (3) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

2 November 2010

03:01

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2010-058A
Meridian n°14L (4) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

4 May 2011

17:41

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2011-018A
Meridian n°15L (5) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

23 December 2011

12:08

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

Failure : Launch failed, Meridian crashed in Altai.
Meridian n°16L (6) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

14 November 2012

11:43

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2012-063A
Meridian n°17L (7) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

30 October 2014

01:43

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2014-069A Last flight of a first generation satellite.
Meridian-M n°18L (8) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

30 July 2019

05:56

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2019-046A First flight of the modernized Meridian-M version.
Meridian-M n°19L (9) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

20 February 2020

08:24

Site 43/3

Plesetsk

2020-015A First flight from Site 43/3.
Meridian-M n°20L (10) Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

22 March 2022

12:48

Site 43/4

Plesetsk

2022-030A
Meridian-M n°21L Soyuz 2.1a

Fregat-M

2022 Site 43/?

Plesetsk

- Last Meridian-M ordered.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Kosmonavtika – par Nicolas Pillet". kosmonavtika.com (in French). Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  2. ^ Anatoly Zak. "Meridian". Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Kosmonavtika – par Nicolas Pillet". kosmonavtika.com (in French). Retrieved 16 February 2020.