Elektro-L model at CeBIT 2011
|Country of origin||Russia|
|First launch||January 20, 2011, 12:29:01 UTC|
|Average mass||1,766 kg (3,893 lb)|
Elektro–L (Russian: Электро-Л) is a new-generation series of meteorological satellites developed for the Russian Federal Space Agency by NPO Lavochkin. The first satellite, Elektro–L 1, was launched on 20 January 2011. It is the first Russian weather satellite that successfully operates in geostationary orbit, and is currently the second operational Russian weather satellite. The satellites have a mass of about 1620 kg and are designed to operate for 10 years each. They are capable of producing images of the Earth's whole hemisphere in both visible and infrared frequencies, providing data for climate change and ocean monitoring in addition to their primary weather forecasting role.
Elektro–L was developed by the company NPO Lavochkin and financed from the Russian Federal Space Program 2006-2015. The satellites will be operated by and provide data for Roscosmos, Scientific Research Center of Space Hydrometeorology "Planeta" and for the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet). Elektro–L's predecessor was the Elektro 1 satellite which was launched in 1994. Like Elektro–L, it was also designed to operate in geostationary orbit, but never became fully operational.
Along with the earlier Meteor-M series, Elekto–L satellites are part of Russia's aim to restore its weather satellite network. Before the launch of Elektro–L 1, Russia had only one operational weather satellite in orbit: Meteor-M 1, operating in a 830-km circular sun-synchronous orbit. Due to lack of satellites, Russia is forced to use meteorological data provided by American and European weather agencies. Aerospace journalist Anatoly Zak wrote that the launch of the first Elektro–L satellite marked the "re-emergence of Russia's space industry after two decades of economic turmoil", as the spacecraft and its standardised Navigator platform were both conceived and developed after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The Elektro–L satellites are capable of providing weather analysis and forecasting both for the territory of Russia and worldwide. The satellites are able to image the entire hemisphere of Earth in visible and infrared frequencies, additionally providing data on climate change, as well as sea and ocean monitoring. An Elektro–L satellite can be also be used to receive and relay COSPAS-SARSAT emergency signals. The addition of Elektro–L 1 to Russia's weather satellite network is expected to make Russian weather forecasts more precise.
The satellites have a mass of about 1620 kg, with the payload mass being 435 kg. Their operational lifetime is expected to be 10 years. The mean power consumption of the spacecraft is 700 W, which is satisfied by solar panels providing 1.7 kW of power. Elektro–L has a modular design, consisting of a payload and a service module. The service module, called Navigator and developed by NPO Lavochkin, is a standardised platform which will also serve as the basis for future Russian satellites, including for space telescope Spektr-R.
The spacecraft's MSU-GS imaging system is able to provide a resolution of 1 km per pixel for the two visible bands and 4 km for eight infrared bands (ranging from 800 nm to 11,500 nm). They will normally take images every 30 minutes, but in case of emergencies, the interval can be shortened to 10 minutes. The camera is an optical-mechanical scanner, sampling the visible bands at 12,576 pixels per line.
Sensor data downlink to Ground Acquisition and Distribution Center uses a X-band (7.5 GHz) frequency and has a data rate of 2.56-15.36 Mbits per second, while exchange of data between regional centers in X-band (at 8.2 and 7.5 GHz) offers data rates of up to 15.36 Mbit/s.
Launch of Elektro–L 1
The first spacecraft of the series, Elektro–L 1, was launched at 15.29 Moscow Time (12:29 GMT) on 20 January 2011 from Pad 45 at Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch vehicle used was a Zenit-2SB, developed by the Ukrainian Yuzhnoe Design Bureau. The rocket's third stage was a newly developed Fregat-SB, a variation of the baseline Fregat, developed by Russia's NPO Lavochkin. At 15.37, the second stage separated and the Fregat-SB continued lifting the spacecraft into geostationary orbit. The satellite separated from the upper stage at 00.28 on 21 January. On 21 January, Roscosmos announced that the spacecraft was fully operational. "We have completed the first series of the testing. The spacecraft is fully operational", Deputy Head Anatoly Shilov said. The satellite's final orbital position in geostationary orbit is 76 degrees east longitude.
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