Russian Weather Sat Finally Reaches Orbit

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PARIS — Russia’s long-delayed Electro-L meteorological satellite is in good health in geostationary orbit following its Jan. 20 launch aboard a Ukrainian Zenit rocket fitted with a Fregat upper stage from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russia’s Roscosmos space agency announced Jan. 21.

The satellite is expected to operate for 10 years at 76 degrees east longitude. Weighing about 1,500 kilograms at launch, Electro-L will provide 1.7 kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its service life. The satellite carries an imager with three visible and seven infrared channels that take images with a ground resolution of between 1 and 4 kilometers.

The first in Russia’s Electro line of geostationary-orbiting weather satellites, Electro 1, was launched in 1994 but failed early in its life. Electro-L, built by Russia’s Lovochkin manufacturing organization, has been delayed on multiple occasions and is more than three years behind schedule.

Russia’s Roshydromet meteorological organization has said several more Electro satellites are in production, but it is not clear when they will be ready for launch.

Anatoly E. Shilov, deputy head of Roscosmos, said in a Jan. 21 statement that the satellite “works perfectly” after initial in-orbit tests.