Janes says Russia has no reconnaissance satellites in orbit

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Journal says Russia has no reconnaissance satellites in orbit LONDON (AFP) May 09, 2001 Russia no longer has any reconnaissance satellites in orbit, Jane's Defence Weekly said in its latest issue, published on Wednesday. The specialist defence journal said this followed the return to earth of its remaining two such craft during the past three weeks.

"The Russian photo-reconnaissance satellite programme has been running at a low level in recent years after the 1970s and 1980s when more than 30 launches would take place each year.

"In 1999 there was only one launch and in 2000 three launches took place," said the report.

It reveals how financial cutbacks meant the country was also without such satellites in the years following the collapse of the Soviet regime.

"During the period 28 September 1996 to 15 May 1997, Russia had no photo-reconnaissance satellites in orbit, the longest break since the programme began in 1962," the journal reported.

It explained that Russia currently uses four types of photo-reconnaissance satellite, three of which belong to the Yantar family.

The most sophisticated of these are able to transmit their images back to earth via radio signals, their life dependent on the amount of fuel they can carry for in-orbit manoeuvering.

The article says the most recent addition is the Orlets-2 Yenissey which has only flown twice.

"The configuration of these satellites is not known, but they are believed to carry more than 20 film-return capsules.

"Both satellites in the series were de-orbited at a time which would have permitted part of the satellite to have been recovered.

"But in the case of the first satellite it is believed that the main structure came down over the Pacific Ocean, the 'graveyard' for the disposal of all large Russian satellites including the Mir space station," explained the journal.

One of the two which recently returned to earth was an Orlets-2.

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-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), May 11, 2001


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