Molniya (satellite)

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This article is about the satellite system. For the Soviet design bureaux, see NPO Molniya.
Molniya 1

Molniya (Russian: Молния; IPA: [ˈmolnʲɪjə], "Lightning") was a military communications satellite system used by the Soviet Union. The satellites were placed into highly eccentric elliptical orbits known as Molniya orbits, characterised by an inclination of +63.4 degrees and a period of around 12 hours. Such orbits allowed them to remain visible to sites in polar regions for extended periods, unlike geostationary satellites in geosynchronous orbits with a 24-hour orbital period.[1]

The Molniya program was authorized by a government decree in late 1960. After some initial failures in 1964, the first operational satellite, Molniya 1-01, was successfully launched on April 23, 1965.

Since October 1967, Molniya satellites have been used by Russia to broadcast their national Orbita television network.


  1. ^ Martin, Donald H. (2000). Communication Satellites. AIAA. pp. 215–. ISBN 9781884989094. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 

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