Yantar (satellite)

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Yantar (Russian: Янтарь meaning amber) is a series of Russian (previously Soviet) reconnaissance satellites,[1] which supplemented and eventually replaced the Zenit spacecraft. Kosmos 2175, a Yantar-4K2 or Kobalt spacecraft, was the first satellite to be launched by the Russian Federation following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Yantar-Terilen was the first real-time digital system. Yantar satellites also formed the basis for the later Orlets, Resurs and Persona satellites.[2] 174 have been launched, nine of which were lost in launch failures. The most recent launch was of Kosmos 2480 a Yantar-4K2M or Kobalt-M, on 17 May 2012. All Yantar satellites have been launched using the Soyuz-U carrier rocket, and the launch of Kosmos 2480 was announced as the last launch of that rocket.[3]


Series Other designations GRAU index First launch Last launch Number launched Remarks
Yantar-1KFT Kometa (Russian: Комета meaning comet)
Siluet (Russian: Силуэт meaning silhouette) [4]
11F660 18 February 1981 2 September 2005 21
Yantar-2K Feniks (Russian: Феникс meaning phoenix) [5] 11F624 23 May 1974 28 June 1983 30
Yantar-4K1 Oktan (Russian: Октан meaning octane[6] 11F693 27 April 1979 30 November 1983 12
Yantar-4K2 Kobalt (Russian: Кобальт meaning cobalt)[7] 11F695 21 August 1981 25 February 2002 82
Yantar-4K2M Kobalt-M [8][9] 11F695M 24 September 2004 6 May 2014 9 Active
Yantar-4KS1 Terilen Russian: Терилен meaning terylene)[10] 11F694 28 December 1982 21 December 1990 15
Yantar-4KS1M Neman Russian: Неман meaning Neman) [11] 17F117 10 July 1991 3 May 2000 9


In 1964 Soviet design bureau OKB-1 was tasked with improving on the newly operational Zenit-2 reconnaissance satellites. They had three streams of work: modifying Zenit satellites, a manned reconnaissance craft called Soyuz-R and a new photo reconnaissance satellite based on Soyuz-R. The third stream was codenamed Yantar and initially there were to be two types - Yantar-1 for medium resolution imaging and Yantar-2 for high resolution. In 1967 a new high resolution satellite was proposed called Yantar-2K. Yantar-2K received government support with the first flight originally planned for 1970, although this deadline slipped.[12]


Main article: Yantar-2K

Yantar-2K differed from Zenit in that it had to stay in orbit for a month unlike Zenit's 8–14 days. It also had 2 film return capsules, something it had in common with the US KH-7 GAMBIT reconnaissance satellite. It had three parts: the aggregate/equipment module (AO - Agregatnyy Otsek), the instrument module (PO - Pribornnyy Otsek) and the special equipment module/special apparatus module (OSA - otsek spetsial'noy apparatury).[12][13] The special equipment module was the part that returned to earth at the end of the mission, and contained the Zhemchug-4 (pearl) camera. Each section was shaped like a truncated cone which gave the craft a conical shape.[12] The craft was 6.3m long[13] (although one source says 8.5m[12]) with a maximum diameter of 2.7m. It weighed 6.6 tonnes.[13]


Main article: Yantar-4K1

Yantar-4K1 was a modification of the Yantar-2K. It had a better camera, the Zhemchug-18, and was in orbit for 45 days rather than the 30 days of Yantar-2K. Other systems were the same as the Yantar-2K and both types of satellites were launched in the same period.[12][13] Both satellites were retired in 1984.


  1. ^ Wade, Mark. "Yantar". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  2. ^ Johnson, Stephen B. (2006). "The History and Histography of National Security Space" (PDF). NASA. 
  3. ^ "Russia successfully launches military satellite". Xinhua. 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  4. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-1KFT (Kometa, Siluet, 11F660)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  5. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-2K (Feniks, 11F624)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  6. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-4K1 (Oktan, 11F693)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  7. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-4K2 (Kobalt, 11F695)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  8. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-4K2M (Kobalt-M, 11F695M ?)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  9. ^ Podvig, Pavel; Zuang, Hui (2008). Russian and Chinese Responses to US Military Plans in Space (PDF). Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences. ISBN 0-87724-068-X. 
  10. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-4KS1 (Terilen, 11F694)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  11. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Yantar-4KS1M (Neman, 17F117)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Gorin, Peter (1998). "Black "Amber":Russian Yantar-Class Optical Reconnaissance Satellites". Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 51: 309–320. 
  13. ^ a b c d Sorokin, Vladislav. "Fourth generation reconnaissance satellites - Yantar-2K". Novosti Kosmonavtiki. Retrieved 2012-06-04.