Space: August 24, 2002


Russia launched a pair of Strela-3 military communications satellites on 8 July into a 1,500km orbit inclined at 82.5 degrees. These were officially designated Cosmos 2390 and 2391 and announced as military satellites. The launch was significant as it was the first time this type has been launched using a Cosmos-3M booster; previous Strelas were launched in sets of six by a Tsyklon launcher. The Russians stopped building Tsyklons some time ago and stopped using up the ones in storage after two launches failed (one put its six satellites into the wrong orbit, the other crashed). After the last Cosmos-3Ms are used up (the type is no longer built), the Russians plan to switch satellite launches to the Briz-KM, a derivative of the SS-19 ICBM.--Stephen V Cole


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