The development of an orbital constellation of dual and military satellites became the central topic of President Vladimir Putin’s meeting in Sochi on Wednesday with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the heads of defense industry companies. Opening the event, Putin recalled that the world’s leading countries are actively developing modern space systems, supplementing and improving their technical characteristics, and the US leadership openly considers space as a theater of military operations. Russia has always consistently opposed the militarization of outer space, but the development of the situation “demands that we pay increased attention to strengthening the orbital group, as well as the rocket and space industry as a whole,” the president noted. As positive examples, he mentioned the increased capabilities of the space echelon of the missile attack warning system (they were confirmed during the Grom-2019 exercises) and the development of new satellite systems by industrial companies.
Much attention is paid to the rearmament of the space forces in the state armaments program (GPV), estimated for 2027, says a Vedomosti source close to the Ministry of Defense: the armed forces, as an analysis of the military conflicts of the last decade has shown, are in great need of new satellite communication systems, guidance and target designation, radio, electronic and optical-electronic reconnaissance, and relaying. Since the 2000s, the industry carried out a number of advanced developments in the field of military space, but due to a combination of technical (unpreparedness for production) and organizational (frequent changes to the mission statement by the customer) they could not be implemented in time , the source admits to Vedomosti. For example, the renewal of the early warning space level that Putin mentions only began in 2015 with the launch of the Tundra device, which is part of the Unified Space Detection and Combat Control System, although the military announced the launch of the first device at at the end of 2009. Now the key issues are related to import substitution, which also affects the timing of the implementation of a number of important programs, the source adds, but they will be completed, because billions of rubles have already been invested in them.
At the same time, we are not only talking about updating the constellation with more advanced systems, but also about installing fundamentally new spacecraft. These include the inspector satellite launched on a Soyuz-2.1v rocket on November 26 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome: it can move in orbit and perform external inspection and non-contact technical diagnostics of other satellites from the smallest possible distance. In addition, as RIA Novosti noted, inspector satellites can receive information not only from their own, but also from foreign units. According to space analyst Bart Hendrix, we can talk about a spacecraft created by the NPO. Lavochkin and the Central Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics as part of the development work “Nivelir”. In June 2017, a platform satellite was launched into space under the code designation Cosmos-2519, and in August, the small spacecraft Cosmos-2521, designed to inspect one of the domestic satellites, separated. Two months later, another revelation occurred: the inspector satellite Kosmos-2523, which can also diagnose the condition of other devices, separated from Cosmos-2521.