Author Topic: Kosmos 2519/2521/2523 - Soyuz-2.1v/Volga - Plesetsk - June 23, 2017  (Read 306312 times)

Offline Phillip Clark

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If you have a look earlier in this thread you will see that Bart Hendrickx has found contracts relating to a second 14F150 mission, so we can expect at least one more flight in the series.   Since early on the Russians said that the 14F150 spacecraft could carry different instrumentation, we should not expect a second mission to duplicate what Cosmos 2519-2521-2523 have done.
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Offline B. Hendrickx

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It looks like at least one of the optical systems for the Cosmos-2519/2521/2523 mission was built by NPO Lepton, a company based in Zelenograd near Moscow. Last May the Space Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences held a meeting on space debris and during one of the presentations reference was made to future space-based surveillance systems for monitoring debris in high Earth orbits. Such systems, it was said, could use the same type of hardware built for such purposes by NPO Lavochkin and NPO Lepton.

http://sovet.cosmos.ru/sites/default/files/04-2.pptx

(see slide 19)

Unfortunately, NPO Lepton is a rather secretive company, making the search for further information very difficult. It doesn’t have a website and no procurement documents produced by this company are available on the zakupki.gov.ru website.

The company is known to have built Earth remote sensing cameras for small satellites such as Zond-PP, Baumanets-2 and Tabletsat-Avrora. There is some background on the company in this 2015 article based on an interview with its director Oleg Kazantsev:
https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/snova-na-orbite.pdf

NPO Lepton’s main products are star trackers, hyperspectral cameras and space-based remote sensing telescopes (one of which is said to have a diameter of more than 300 mm). The article mentions a star tracker for an NPO Lavochkin satellite (but that could, of course, be any satellite built by NPO Lavochkin). 

One paper published by a specialist of NPO Lepton in 2014 dealt with a camera that can be used for both Earth remote sensing and space observations (more particularly, “observations of stars and space debris”) (author : Gleb A. Shcherbina, 6/2014 issue of “Zhurnal Radioelektroniki”).

Here is the English abstract :

Quote
In this paper we study the possibility of creating a multifunctional optoelectronic system capable of performing both Earth surface observation and space objects survey. It is shown that an optoelectronic camera using an interline CCD matrix can act as such system. A description of the interline CCD matrix operating procedure in time delay and integration (TDI) mode is given. Measurement result data is provided for main energy and modulation transfer characteristics of the implementation of TDI mode interline CCD.

The complete article (in Russian) is here:
http://jre.cplire.ru/mac/jun14/9/text.html

Another article written by the same author a year later (Zhurnal Radiolelektroniki, 4/2015) discussed the effects of space radiation on such a camera :

Quote
In this paper the defects in interline CCD matrix were studied, which appear as a result of its irradiation with high-energy protons. Defects were studied in different operation modes: in frames mode and in time delay and integration (TDI) mode. By using a special organization of TDI mode we were able to localize defects in vertical register with a precision of one pixel. The dependence of the defects behavior on different system parameters was also studied, such as: temperature, exposure time in frame mode, exposure time of every step of integration in TDI mode, charge storage time in vertical register and number of integration steps in TDI mode. Also a method of removal of the influence of these defects directly during flight tests was developed and tested.

The Russian article is here:
http://jre.cplire.ru/alt/apr15/12/text.html

After the launch of the mission in June last year, the Ministry of Defense said its purpose was both Earth remote sensing and space surveillance, so this is a camera that would be able to fulfill both those objectives. However, there is no evidence that the proposed camera was actually built.

As I mentioned in Reply 273, NPO Lepton also had a small camera on the Zond-PP satellite that was used for space observations and proposed a star tracker for a network of space surveillance satellites called Trek-SK1.

As is known from another source, another payload for this mission appears to be a TV camera built by NIIT in St-Petersburg (see Reply 241). One could speculate that the Lepton camera is used for long-distance observations of objects in orbit (and possibly for remote sensing as well) and that the NIIT camera was used for close-up observations when Cosmos-2519 and 2521 were flying in tandem.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Here’s some more speculation on the possible nature of Cosmos-2523. After it separated from Cosmos-2521 last October, the Russian Ministry of Defense issued this statement:

Quote
Today, in the next step of the experiment, a satellite inspector was detached from the small satellite (Cosmos-2521).   The inspector is capable of diagnosing the technical condition of a/the Russian satellite from the closest possible distance using special equipment.   The obtained information will be sent to Earth for detailed analysis and to decide whether the observed satellite will be restored to working order.

However, almost immediately after separating from Cosmos-2521, Cosmos-2523 performed a maneuver that lowered its perigee by about 100 km and it never came in the immediate vicinity of Cosmos-2521 again (or any other satellite for that matter). Its orbit has slowly decayed ever since. Therefore, it may be on another mission than the one that was officially announced.

I have mentioned the possibility that Cosmos-2523 may have acted as a target for long-distance stereo observations from C-2519 and C-2521 (see Reply 273), but a closer study of the orbital geometry of the three satellites would be needed to see if that has ever been possible. Another or an additional function of the satellite may be to calibrate radars of the Russian ground-based early warning and space surveillance system. The Russians launched numerous such radar calibration satellites in the Soviet days (when they were built by KB Yuzhnoe in Ukraine) and clearly have not lost interest in them.  They were  identified as an important element of the space-based assets of the country’s Air and Space Defense Forces in a 2014 article by Vyacheslav Fateyev, the former director of the MAK Vympel company (which is believed to have played a leading role in space-based space surveillance systems). Unfortunately, the magazine in which the article was published (“Vozdushno-kosmicheskaya oborona”) has gone offline.
 
The latest Russian radar calibration satellites were small spheres that were carried on the first and second launch of the Soyuz-2-1v in December 2013 and December 2015. The first launch (with the Aist remote sensing satellite as the main payload) carried two spheres called SKRL-756, which were ejected from a container attached to the Volga upper stage.  The second launch (with Kanopus-ST as the main payload) carried a single calibration satellite called KYuA-1, also ejected from a container attached to Volga. There was a contract signed in 2014 for a KYuA-2 satellite (more particularly for “adaptations to the satellite” and “manufacture and delivery of the launch container”):

http://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31401464976

 It was probably supposed to have been launched together with KYuA-1, but for some reason did not fly on that mission. However, it can be ruled out as a candidate for Cosmos-2523 because the small spherical calibration satellites were entirely passive, whereas Cosmos-2523 clearly has an engine system.

One company that has studied maneuverable radar calibration satellites is the Kometa Corporation. While Kometa is best known for its role as lead organization for missile early warning satellites, Kometa specialists have also produced numerous papers about space-based space surveillance and the company may have been placed in charge  of the nation’s space-based space surveillance systems after becoming part of the Almaz-Antei concern in 2015 (possibly taking over that role from MAK Vympel). Some comments from Kometa officials in recent years suggest that the company’s space-related work extends beyond early warning. Apart from space-based space surveillance and radar calibration, that may also include orbital ASAT systems (Kometa was also in charge of the Soviet-era “IS” co-orbital ASAT project).

Over the last years specialists of Kometa have filed several patents for radar calibration satellites (one person involved in all of those being a certain Aleksandr P. Poluyan).

http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/247/2477495.html
http://www.freepatent.ru/patents/2519820
http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/253/2535661.html
http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/254/2544908.html
http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/257/2570126.html
http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/259/2594667.html
http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/259/2596194.html
http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/264/2640167.html

Some of the more recent ones show small satellites with V-shaped radar reflectors. Unlike spherical reflectors, these can be used to calibrate radars generating what are called “circular polarization signals”. Below are drawings from two of those patents (published in 2015 and 2017). Both of the satellites are said to be designed to have an on-board engine system and the latter also has a camera for optical or infrared remote sensing (with observation of space objects being mentioned as another possible objective).

While radar calibration looks like a plausible task for a seemingly “passive” satellite like Cosmos-2523, I should caution that there is no evidence that any of these patents are related to the production of actual hardware. All one can say for sure is that Kometa has studied maneuverable radar calibration satellites. The possibility of a link with Cosmos-2523 is sheer speculation. One obvious question is why Cosmos-2523 performed just the single burn. One would expect an engine system to be used to tweak the orbit regularly, which clearly has not happened.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Jonathan McDowell's update on the mission:
https://www.planet4589.org/space/jsr/jsr.html


Quote
Kosmos-2519/2521/2523
---------------------
The Russian inspector satellite experiment launched in 2017 continues.
From Jun 27 to Jul 19 the host satellite Kosmos-2519 made a series of
burns which changed its orbit from 644 x 659 km to 318 x 664 km.
Kosmos-2521 appears to have made a single burn on Jul 20 to go from 346
x 362 km to 292 x 348 km. Kosmos-2523 remains in the 553 x 665 km orbit
into which it was ejected last October.

Picked up by RIA Novosti yesterday under the title "Expert : Russian military satellite inspectors again change orbits" (in Russian):

https://ria.ru/space/20180801/1525710145.html

And so Russian news outlets continue to rely on Western sources to update their readers on this mission. One of the added comments this time is : "America and China have their own satellite inspectors. The most famous of these is the American spaceplane X-37".

The X-37B has always been a matter of major concern to the Russians and the first flight of the X-37B in 2010 may well have been a major factor in the Russian decision to press ahead with the development a satellite inspection system. However, while the X-37B theoretically could have a satellite inspection capability, I doubt if is there any evidence that it has ever actually been used in that capacity.

Offline Magic

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My first article about Cosmos 2519 et al which I called "Cosmos 2519 - A Mysterious Military Satellite" has been renamed "Unidentified Flying Object", and it is in the June 2018 issue of the British Interplanetary Society's Spaceflight magazine, pages 34-39: the issue is published in early May.

I have a second article underway, looking at this year's developments of the three-satellites mission, and I plan to submit that to Spaceflight at the end of June, thus having the two articles covering the first year's activities.   My title for the article is currently "Further Cosmos 2521 Operations with Cosmos 2519", but I assume it will be renamed to be something like "Flying saucers are here".

Just noticed on reading the BIS Russian/Sino Technical Forum agenda your 30min afternoon talk on 2 June was called: "Cosmos 2519 - The Matryoshka Satellite" is that the name of the paper to be published? 

Offline Phillip Clark

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Just noticed on reading the BIS Russian/Sino Technical Forum agenda your 30min afternoon talk on 2 June was called: "Cosmos 2519 - The Matryoshka Satellite" is that the name of the paper to be published?

Now that both Cosmos 2519 and 2521 appear to have stopped manoeuvring (for the time being!) I hope to finalise the paper today and send it off by the middle of next week.   The working title is "Cosmos 2519 et al: Further Operations, January-July 2018", but who knows what title it will be given by Spaceflight for publication?!
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Star One

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Just noticed on reading the BIS Russian/Sino Technical Forum agenda your 30min afternoon talk on 2 June was called: "Cosmos 2519 - The Matryoshka Satellite" is that the name of the paper to be published?

Now that both Cosmos 2519 and 2521 appear to have stopped manoeuvring (for the time being!) I hope to finalise the paper today and send it off by the middle of next week.   The working title is "Cosmos 2519 et al: Further Operations, January-July 2018", but who knows what title it will be given by Spaceflight for publication?!

You do know as soon as you send it in one or both will start manoeuvring again.

Offline Phillip Clark

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You do know as soon as you send it in one or both will start manoeuvring again.

Which is why I am hoping that my sight lasts long enough to do a third paper in maybe a year's time.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Star One

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You do know as soon as you send it in one or both will start manoeuvring again.

Which is why I am hoping that my sight lasts long enough to do a third paper in maybe a year's time.

Sorry to hear that.

Offline Phillip Clark

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Sorry to hear that.

Thank you.   The eye strain which I experienced just over a month ago while trying to set up Office 2016 before I got the colour scheme sorted out clearly did a lot of damage.   I had lost one eye in 2009 and the sight in my other one was already bad.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Magic

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Just noticed on reading the BIS Russian/Sino Technical Forum agenda your 30min afternoon talk on 2 June was called: "Cosmos 2519 - The Matryoshka Satellite" is that the name of the paper to be published?

Now that both Cosmos 2519 and 2521 appear to have stopped manoeuvring (for the time being!) I hope to finalise the paper today and send it off by the middle of next week.   The working title is "Cosmos 2519 et al: Further Operations, January-July 2018", but who knows what title it will be given by Spaceflight for publication?!
Not to go too far off topic, but your right, your Soyuz spacecraft recoveries talk was entitled “Happy Landings” in the July issue. It’s sad to see them use such a tabloid style, rather then being a good reference of record.
« Last Edit: 08/10/2018 05:03 PM by Magic »

Offline Phillip Clark

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Not to go too far off topic, but your right, your Soyuz spacecraft recoveries talk was entitled “Happy Landings” in the July issue. It’s sad to see them use such a tabloid style, rather then being a good reference of record.

As noted earlier in this thread, the first Cosmos 2519 paper was originally called "Cosmos 2519 - a mysterious Russian mission" and it became "Unidentified flying object" when published.   The Soyuz paper was originally "Recoveries of Soyuz spacecraft" and that - as you say - became "Happy landings".   I guess that now that the BIS are once more pushing Spaceflight as a commercial publication, available from high street magazine stands, articles need to have attention-grabbing, snappy titles -  which I know I am not good at!
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Online Alter Sachse

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Now we have Cosmos 2521 on the move.   No manoeuvre from Cosmos 2519 yesterday but instead Cosmos 2521 converted its perigee to a new apogee:

Jul 19.827    97.899 deg      91.613 min     346-362 km    223 deg
Jul 20.583    97.901            90.929           292- 348           93

Aug 10        97.90°           90.85 min    291-341km
by natural influences
« Last Edit: 08/11/2018 11:31 AM by Alter Sachse »

Offline weedenbc

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Today the Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Yleem D.S. Poblete, made a a statement to the Conference on Disarmament regarding recent Russian activities in orbit:
https://geneva.usmission.gov/2018/08/14/remarks-by-assistant-secretary-yleem-d-s-poblete-at-the-conference-on-disarmament/

Specifically of interest to this thread:

Quote
Mr. President, in October of last year the Russian Ministry of Defense deployed a space object they claimed was a “space apparatus inspector.” But its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities. We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared “space apparatus inspector.” We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it.

Does anyone know which object they are referring to, and what specific behavior it's been displaying that would be "inconsistent"?

---
Brian Weeden

Offline Phillip Clark

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I would assume that the reference is to the deployment of Cosmos 2523 with the Russians have said was an inspector satellite, and the "inconsistency" would be that the satellite does not appear to have inspected any other satellite: unless it has observed other satellites from great distances.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Phillip Clark

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BBC catches up with the story but apparently they don't know which satellite is being talked about.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45194333
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Star One

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BBC catches up with the story but apparently they don't know which satellite is being talked about.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45194333

There’s no indication who wrote the piece was hoping it might be Mr Amos as he usually more often than not knows what he’s talking about.

Offline Blackstar

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Mystery Russian satellite's behaviour raises alarm in US
BBC, 15 August, 2018

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying "very abnormal behaviour" has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

"We don't know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it," said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as "unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions".

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

"[The satellite's] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities," Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

"Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development," she added, citing recent comments made by the commander of Russia's Space Forces, who said adopting "new prototypes of weapons" was a key objective for the force.

Ms Poblete said that the US had "serious concerns" that Russia was developing anti-satellite weapons.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-45194333


That is based upon this:


https://www.state.gov/t/avc/rls/285128.htm

« Last Edit: 08/15/2018 06:34 PM by Blackstar »

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Russia has dismissed the comments as "unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions".

To the best of my knowledge there has so far been no official Russian reaction to Poblete's speech. All I've seen in Russian media reports are reactions from experts, like this one from Igor Marinin, the editor-in-chief of "Novosti kosmonavtiki" magazine:

http://nsn.fm/in-the-world/zayavleniya-ssha-o-nenormalnom-povedenii-sputnika-rf-nazvali-politicheskoy-purgoy.html

(my quick translation)

Quote
"The Americans are overreacting. Apparently, the time has come for that and they've found a reason. They've most likely been following the movements of the satellite and seeing where it is flying to. [They're making a big fuzz about the fact] that it is maneuvering. At the same time, they fail to mention that America also has satellites that maneuver and can approach our satellites. This is a purely political game".

"This is a secret satellite. For which purposes it is being used is very difficult to say, but it is a fact that it is maneuvering. This means it can approach other satellites, both Russian and foreign. This is nothing new. The Americans have similar satellites that can also approach satellites of friendly countries and collect certain information. What kind of information they collect, how they can interact with one another or with an enemy satellite is top-secret information that neither the Americans nor we can and will reveal".

"Neither we nor they have any evidence that combat systems have been placed into orbit. There is no evidence whatsoever that our satellite or American inspector satellites carry weapons to damage enemy satellites".


One comment : it seems to be the absence of maneuvers by Cosmos-2523 that has raised suspicion about its true mission. But then none of the journalists or experts who have reported and commented on Poblete's speech seem to have taken the trouble to figure out what satellite she was reallly talking about.




Offline Phillip Clark

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For anyone who is interested, I have just sent off "Cosmos 2519 et al: Further Operations, January-July 2018" to the British Interplanetary Society's Spaceflight magazine.   No idea how soon it will be published.   It covers the activities through to the end of July (as the title implies).   So I expect the satellite manoeuvres to start again in the next few days.  ;D

Update - been told that the article is scheduled for the December issue of Spaceflight which comes out in early November.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2018 09:20 AM by Phillip Clark »
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

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