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Russian military satellite launched into wrong orbit
Posted: Wed, Feb 2, 2011, 8:03 AM ET (1303 GMT)
Rockot booster in flight (DLR/Spaceflight Now) A Russian rocket launched a military satellite Tuesday, but apparently placed the spacecraft into the wrong orbit. The Rockot vehicle lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia Tuesday at 9 am EST (1400 GMT) Tuesday, carrying the GEO-IK 2 satellite, but ground controllers could not initially contact the spacecraft after entering orbit. The Russian military did later establish contact with the satellite after discovering that the satellite was not in its planned circular orbit at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers, but instead in an elliptical orbit with a perigee of 330 km. Officials speculate that a problem with the Rockot's upper stage prevented the spacecraft from reaching its planned orbit, and are now looking into what the spacecraft can do in its current orbit. The satellite was the first of two geodetic spacecraft intended to perform measurements of the Earth's shape and gravitational field.
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