Author Topic: Project Nivelir  (Read 7949 times)

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Project Nivelir
« on: 02/12/2020 09:09 am »
I'm starting a program thread here on project Nivelir. The evidence points to this to being a program involving satellites built by NPO Lavochkin (14F150) and smaller satellites which are deployed from 14F150 and built by the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM or CNIIHM). Two such missions have been launched so far, Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 in June 2017 and Kosmos-2542/2543 in November 2019.  Kosmos-2519 and 2542 are 14F150 satellites and Kosmos-2521 and Kosmos-2543 are likely identical CNIIHM satellites.

Mission goals officially announced for these satellites are monitoring of other Russian satellites and Earth remote sensing.  Kosmos-2523 (deployed from Kosmos-2521), while officially described as an inspector satellite, likely performed another mission and cannot be positively identified (although it may be another CNIIHM satellite called Napryazheniye).  US intelligence analysts believe it was a test of an ASAT weapon.

Five other satellites have been launched so far that are likely also products of CNIIHM:

- Kosmos-2491, 2499 and 2504: launched as co-passengers with other satellites on the Rokot booster in 2013-2015. The latter two rendezvoused with the Briz-KM upper stage of the Rokot. Kosmos-2504 was identified in one official document as 14F153.

- Kosmos-2535 and 2536: launched with two other satellites by the Soyuz-2-1v last July. They have been performing rendezvous and proximity operations since early August. An official announcement by the Ministry of Defense last August identified one as a “registering satellite” and the other as an “inspector satellite” that performed “in-orbit servicing” of the registering satellite and studied the effects on the registering satellite of “space debris, electron and proton radiation of the outer natural radiation belt of the Earth, protons and heavy charged particles, solar and galactic cosmic rays”. During one of the close encounters between the two satellites in late September, one or both of them generated a large number of fragments that ended up in widely scattered orbits.

There are reasons to believe that these five satellites use a platform similar to that of Kosmos-2521 and 2543, but some or all of them may also be part of CNIIHM’s Burevestnik project, which appears to be closely related to Nivelir, sharing various satellite systems and at least one ground control facility. 

All posts on general aspects of the Nivelir project have so far have been in the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43064.0

Now that a second mission is underway, it makes more sense to discuss general aspects of this project in a separate program thread.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #1 on: 02/12/2020 09:20 am »
There are indications that a company called the State Ryazan Instrument Factory (GRPZ) develops computer vision systems for rendezvous and proximity operations performed by satellites flown under the Nivelir project. This can be deduced from a number of documents on Russia’s government procurement website as well as a couple of other sources.       

GRPZ, based in Ryazan (some 200 km southeast of Moscow), belongs to KRET (Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies), the largest holding in Russia’s radio-electronic industry. GRPZ produces a wide range of electronic systems, including computer vision systems for aircraft and helicopters. Its website is here:
http://www.grpz.ru/index.shtml

The fact that GRPZ is involved in a project called Nivelir can be inferred from several documents published on zakupki.gov.ru:

https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31300628296

This has a draft contract (dated September 27, 2013) between GRPZ and the State Institute of Applied Optics (GIPO) for something called Nivelir-KTA-SOS-KTZ. This is literally described as “the development and manufacture of specialized test stands, the manufacture and testing of experimental versions of a computer vision channel for the electro-optical system of a flying apparatus”. “Flying apparatus” is a term used in Russian for any vehicle that flies and may therefore also refer to satellites. It is mostly used in that context when authors wish to conceal the exact nature of the vehicle they are writing about (such as military satellites).

The contract is based on another contract signed on July 1, 2013 between GRPZ and NPO Avtomatiki. NPO Avtomatiki is best known as the manufacturer of the guidance and control system of the Soyuz rocket. 

https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31807179578

A contract signed by GRPZ on November 21, 2018 for something called Nivelir-ANK-POS. This is literally described as “Development of software for test stand equipment to perform tests of product ANK”. The work was to be finished by November 30, 2019.

https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/contract/public/contract/view/general-information.html?id=6152825

A contract signed by GRPZ on December 26, 2018 for something called Nivelir-ANK-KTZ, literally described as “Development of a computer vision channel for product ANK”. The work is to be finished by August 31, 2024.

GRPZ’s subcontractors for the latter two contracts are not identified in the documentation. However, they are described as being follow-up contracts to a contract signed with “a third party” on February 28, 2018. The number of that contract is given as 158/635/1717-G. This makes it possible to conclude with a fairly high degree of certainty that  “the third party” is the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM/CNIIHM), the prime contractor for the Nivelir space project. Contracts concluded by CNIIHM typically have a sequence of numbers followed by the letter “G” and “1717” fits in a sequence of other contracts known to have been signed by CNIIHM. So it would seem that CNIIHM and GRPZ signed a contract in February 2018 for something called Nivelir-ANK and that GRPZ subsequently signed follow-up contracts with other industrial partners to carry out that work.

Nivelir contracts with the same acronyms are also seen in two other sources:

http://www.rusea.info/eoaywinners/12078

This is a brief bio of a researcher of GIPO named Andrei Mikhalitsyn who is said to have been involved in the development of “(high)-altitude infrared camera and infrared television systems for OKR (“experimental design work”) Nivelir-SOS-KTZ, Lotos-MOK, Numizmat-IKG and Burevestnik”.  Numizmat and Burevstnik are the names of two other space projects run by CNIIHM.

https://docplayer.ru/61348280-Korepanov-semen-evgenevich.html

This is a PhD dissertation defended in 2017 by Semyon Korepanov, a researcher of the Ryazan State Radiotechnical University. It deals with the use of computer vision systems for in-flight refueling of aircraft, but also mentions the possible applications of such systems for rendezvous operations in space. Among the projects where the results of his research were applied were  “Nivelir-SOS” and “Nivelir-KTA-SOS” of GRPZ.

Only two of the acronyms seen in all these Nivelir contracts can be deciphered with certainty, namely KTZ (“computer vision channel”) and POS (“test stand software”). SOS is an acronym often used for the “orientation and stabilization system” of spacecraft, all the subsystems needed to ensure that a satellite is properly oriented in space. ANK is often used to refer to on-board navigation systems, although usually not in the context of spaceflight.

None of all this is unmistakable evidence that this work is related to the Nivelir space project (“Nivelir” has also been seen as a code-name for other projects). GRPZ (to the best of my knowledge) has not published any papers related to satellites, nor is it listed among the companies that have a Roscosmos license to build space equipment. Some of the terms used in these contracts might just as well be interpreted as referring to an aviation project. It is also possible that the 2013 Nivelir contract is unrelated to the later 2018 contracts.

Still, the apparent involvement of CNIIHM in the 2018 contracts strongly points to a relation with the Nivelir space project. While the institute also works on many other types of technology (including drones), it looks unlikely that CNIIHM is working on two unrelated projects both having the name Nivelir.

Further evidence for a connection between CNIIHM and GRPZ comes in this patent released early last year:

https://patents.s3.yandex.net/RU2684445C1_20190409.pdf

This is a CNIIHM patent for a laser rangefinder. Two of the three patent holders (Dmitriy Glebov and Ruslan Pashkin) work or used to work for GRPZ (as can be determined from a handful of earlier patents filed by these researchers). The exact purpose of the laser rangefinder is not mentioned, but it could well be intended for rendezvous and proximity operations in space. This is the English abstract:

Quote
The invention relates to laser engineering, namely to laser range-finding devices with misaligned receiving and transmitting channels. Device comprises a transmitting channel for forming a beam of probing radiation and directing it to a target, which includes a laser emitter and a collimating output lens which is optically connected thereto, as well as a receiving channel for receiving a target reflected by the target, which includes a photodetector and an input lens which is optically connected to it. Optical axis of the receiving channel is turned towards the transmitting channel at an angle such that at the limit range of measurements the visual field of the receiving channel covers the laser spot by touching the inner edge of the laser spot with its outer edge.

According to the website of GRPZ, the company builds laser rangefinders with a built-in television channel to provide accurate range measurements at distances between 200 m and 12 km. While no specific mention is made of space applications, laser rangefinder (lidar) technology has been used by other countries for rendezvous operations in space.

One other clue that GRPZ is involved in developing satellite rendezvous technology comes in a PhD dissertation defended in 2015 by Kristina Mironova, another researcher of the Ryazan State Radiotechnical University.

http://www.dslib.net/mat-modelirovanie/metody-matematicheskogo-modelirovanija-upravlenija-malymi-kosmicheskimi-apparatami-na.html
(only a summary is available online)

Her dissertation was related to rendezvous and proximity operations between small satellites and GRPZ is given as one of the organizations where the results of her research were applied. The exact goal of the research is somewhat vague, but one of the things she did was to make computer simulations of small satellites being ejected from one platform and flying to another platform in space, as can be seen in the attached illustration from the dissertation (a femtosatellite (FS) flying from space platform 1 (KP 1) to space platform 2 (KP 2)). A satellite that she used in her computer models appears to be a Karat-200 platform of NPO Lavochkin with stationary plasma thrusters. It is also seen in an earlier NPO Lavochkin proposal for a mission to the asteroid Apophis (see attachment 2).  NPO Lavochkin’s 14F150 satellite, which is part of the Nivelir project, may also use a Karat-200 platform, but it has thermal catalytic monopropellant thrusters burning hydrazine.

It is far from certain that there is any direct link between this PhD dissertation and the Nivelir project, but the fact that the results of Mironova’s research were used by GRPZ does at least indicate that the company has some kind of role in the space program.

In short, there are strong indications that GRPZ is working on computer vision systems (possibly including laser rangefinders) for rendezvous and proximity operations in the Nivelir project, but conclusive evidence for that is still lacking.

Offline leovinus

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #2 on: 02/12/2020 08:35 pm »
In short, there are strong indications that GRPZ is working on computer vision systems (possibly including laser rangefinders) for rendezvous and proximity operations in the Nivelir project, but conclusive evidence for that is still lacking.

This might not be the right thread but for less knowledgable but interested readers like myself, do you have any insight whether such Computer Vision systems are an evolution of whatever automatic docking Soyuz et al use? I mean, I have seen Computer Vision in action on SpaceX/ ISS Cargo docking system, and the European one as well. Not familiar with the Russian solutions. Hence, could we clarify what is different here? Just the ability to go beyond ISS docking to do proximity ranging with a "random" satellite to not collide with long extruding poles/antenna's? Or how would this help a future version of Cosmos 2542? Curious minds are enquiring :)

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #3 on: 02/13/2020 02:06 pm »
In short, there are strong indications that GRPZ is working on computer vision systems (possibly including laser rangefinders) for rendezvous and proximity operations in the Nivelir project, but conclusive evidence for that is still lacking.

This might not be the right thread but for less knowledgable but interested readers like myself, do you have any insight whether such Computer Vision systems are an evolution of whatever automatic docking Soyuz et al use? I mean, I have seen Computer Vision in action on SpaceX/ ISS Cargo docking system, and the European one as well. Not familiar with the Russian solutions. Hence, could we clarify what is different here? Just the ability to go beyond ISS docking to do proximity ranging with a "random" satellite to not collide with long extruding poles/antenna's? Or how would this help a future version of Cosmos 2542? Curious minds are enquiring :)

So far the Russians have used only radio navigation systems (Igla, Kurs) for rendezvous and docking. There were plans for an optical navigation system for Buran ("Kurs-O"), which reportedly made two test flights on Soyuz, but with negative results. It was then shelved when Buran was canceled. A handheld laser rangefinder was used by the crew of Soyuz T-13 in 1985 to rendezvous with the out-of-control Salyut-7 station in 1985. The same device was also used by the crew of Soyuz T-15 to dock with Salyut-7 and Mir in 1986. These were standard army laser rangefinders called LPR-1. A new model called LDI-11 was introduced on Soyuz later, but I understand it was only carried on board in case of emergencies.

In a 2015 interview the director of KB Tochmash (the "Nudelman design bureau") said his company was developing a space-based lidar for "a foreign partner" (China??). KB Tochmash is best known in the space community for its involvement in a number of ASAT projects.

As far as I know, that is the only experience the Russians have so far had with this type of technology. I wouldn't want to speculate on how it could benefit the Nivelir project. Your guess is just as good as mine. All I can say is that they are apparently working on this for Nivelir. Much of the technological innovation in Russia's space program these days seems to be taking place in these top-secret military projects.   

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #4 on: 02/16/2020 11:25 pm »
The missions officially announced for Nivelir are space surveillance and Earth remote sensing and therefore both NPO Lavochkin’s 14F150 satellites and the smaller CNIIHM satellites deployed from them must have one or more optical systems on board to perform those observations.

One optical company that may well be involved in Nivelir is NPO Lepton, a producer of remote sensing cameras based in Zelenograd, about 40 km northwest of Moscow.  NPO Lepton is a rather secretive company about which it is not easy to find information (it doesn’t even have a website). Although remote sensing appears to be the company’s core business, it also seems to have worked on optical systems for monitoring the space environment. I already presented some evidence for that in the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread:

- in a presentation held during an Academy of Sciences meeting on space debris in June 2018, a proposal was formulated for a space-based surveillance system to monitor debris in high Earth orbits. Such a system, it was said, could be based on hardware built for such purposes by NPO Lavochkin and NPO Lepton.
http://sovet.cosmos.ru/sites/default/files/04-2.pptx
(see slide 19)

This may well have been a reference to NPO Lavochkin’s 14F150 satellite and one of its payloads.

- an NPO Lepton researcher published papers in 2014 and 2015 on a camera that can be used both for remote sensing and space observations:
http://jre.cplire.ru/mac/jun14/9/text.html
http://jre.cplire.ru/alt/apr15/12/text.html

- another NPO Lepton researcher did a PhD dissertation on the use of space-based optical equipment to determine the orbits of space debris. As part of his PhD research, he used a small camera aboard NPO Lavochkin's Zond-PP (MKA-FKI (PN1)) remote sensing satellite (launched in July 2012) to observe objects in space.  The camera (called FGMB) was built by NPO Lepton, but was not the satellite's main payload. In the final chapter of his PhD, the author discusses the possibility of performing joint observations of orbiting objects from two observation satellites in slightly different orbits. Using a technique called epipolar geometry, this would make it possible to increase the accuracy of orbital measurements twofold.

The PhD thesis is here:
http://ipg.geospace.ru/ref/DS/00000003/disser.pdf

Interestingly, it was reviewed by a specialist of CNIIHM:
http://ipg.geospace.ru/ref/DS/00000003/ЦНИИХМ.pdf

Since I posted that information, some additional evidence has emerged that NPO Lepton is involved in Nivelir.  First of all, there is this CNIIHM patent for an “optical telescope” released in 2011:

https://patents.s3.yandex.net/RU115933U1_20120510.pdf

Among the seven patent holders are Oleg Kazantsev, the head of NPO Lepton, and Dmitriy Korotkov, another employee of NPO Lepton. Three can be identified as working for CNIIHM and one for NPO Lavochkin. The affiliation of one of them (Dmitriy Vladimirovich Kuznetsov) cannot be determined with certainty. There was a person by that name who presented papers on small satellites and space-based optical systems for space surveillance at conferences organized by the Kometa Corporation in 2011-2014. He worked for an affiliate of Kometa called NPTs OEKN (Scientific Design Center for Electro-Optic Observation Complexes).  However, his name is very common in Russia, so this may very well be a coincidence.

The exact purpose of the telescope is not given, but its main advantage would be the ability to perform uninterrupted observations of “moving objects”, which could, of course, be satellites. The images would be “more informative” and have less distortion than those provided by similar telescopes. Two optical schemes were proposed in the patent, both using a combination of a lens with a variety of mirrors (so it would appear to be a so-called catadioptric system). The mirrors would project the light beam onto several photo detectors, making it possible to perform uninterrupted observations of moving objects. The patent was filed on September 27, 2011, which, coincidentally or not, was three days before the official approval of the Nivelir project.


Another possible indication that NPO Lepton is involved in Nivelir is that it has been working on space-based telescopes that cannot be linked to any known civilian space projects. In a 2015 interview Oleg Kazantsev said his company produced three types of instruments for the space program:  hyperspectral remote sensing cameras, star trackers and remote sensing telescopes.
https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/snova-na-orbite

However, the only NPO Lepton instruments known to have actually flown on satellites are a hyperspectral camera and the FGMB camera on NPO Lavochkin’s Zond-PP satellite and small remote sensing cameras on the Tabletsat-Avrora and Baumanets-2 microsatellites (the latter of which was lost in a launch failure in 2017).

Kazantsev said that when NPO Lepton received orders for telescopes with mirrors larger than 300mm, it had to turn to another optical company to build those mirrors, among other things because NPO Lepton does not have clean rooms large enough to assemble such mirrors.Kazantsev did not identify the name of that optical company, but he was almost certainly referring to NPO Optika, a Moscow-based company that traces its origins back to 1968 and is now part of the Shvabe holding. Several annual reports of this company mention its cooperation with NPO Lepton on space-based optical instruments. The annual reports (2012 to 2017) can be downloaded here:

http://e-disclosure.ru/portal/files.aspx?id=31595&type=2

The annual report for 2012 said that this co-operation began in 2011 (again, coincidentally or not, the same year that Nivelir got underway) and was aimed at producing high-resolution telescopes with mirror diameters of 350-440 mm and focal lengths of 2500-3000 mm. This cooperation was expected to continue in the period 2012-2020 and result in the production of “flightworthy models”.  Later annual reports mention a space-based “high-resolution panchromatic camera” (PKVR) with a Korsch type optical assembly, which is a three-mirror anastigmat. What appears to be the primary mirror has a diameter of 330 mm.  A mock-up of this optical assembly was built in 2012 and it would appear that flightworthy versions were ready by the middle of last decade.

The 2016 annual report also mentions another space-based instrument, but doesn’t link this specifically to NPO Lepton. It says that optical components had been built for “the first experimental version of a space-based electro-optical system using the Cooke configuration”. A "Cooke triplet" is a term usually used to refer to photographic objectives consisting of three lenses, but the Russians also apply it to three-mirror anastigmat telescopes with off-axis primary and tertiary mirrors (such as the ones flown on some Western remote sensing satellites like WorldView-1 and QuickBird-2).

The 2017 report mentions the production of a primary, secondary, tertiary mirror as well as a “rotating flat mirror” for NPO Lepton and lists this separately from the PKVR telescope, indicating that these may be parts for the Cooke telescope. Some of the reports say that among the company’s priorities are “the design of optical systems using aspherical optics with the Cooke and Korsch configurations, the production of high-resolution objectives with mirror diameters of 250-1000 mm and focal lengths of 500-3000 mm”. This might indicate that the diameter of the Cooke telescope’s primary mirror is in the 1 meter range.

NPO Optika’s annual reports do not link these telescopes to any specific project and remain vague about their purpose. They list them among the company’s “civilian products” and say only that the PKVR telescope is intended for “scientific research”.  Despite their purported civilian nature, there is no trace of these telescopes in other sources. They have not flown on any Russian civilian satellites, nor are they known to be planned for future civilian satellites.

A search for PKVR turns up only this article, written in 2008:
http://jurnal.vniiem.ru/text/105/12.pdf

It mentions a camera called PKVR-1 that was supposed to fly on a small Earth remote sensing satellite proposed at the time by the Makeyev design bureau. NPO Lepton is given as one of two optical companies involved in the Makeyev proposal, but it is not even clear if PKVR-1 was its  product.  Anyway, there does not seem to be a relation between this camera and the one later jointly developed by NPO Lepton and NPO Optika.

An aspherical mirror with a “light diameter” of 330 mm and “full diameter” of 340 mm is the subject of a patent filed by NPO Optika in 2015, but it is unclear if it bears any relation to the equally sized primary mirror of the PKVR telescope:
https://patents.s3.yandex.net/RU2677036C2_20190115.pdf

Also noteworthy is this NPO Optika patent (filed in 2017) for a system to maintain the proper shape of large mirrors used in ground-based and space-based telescopes. It was tested on an NPO Optika mirror with a “light diameter” of 1100 mm and a “full diameter” of 1155 mm, which may be the size of the primary mirror of the Cooke telescope.
https://patents.s3.yandex.net/RU2677036C2_20190115.pdf

The same system is also described in this 2017 paper, where the 1100 mm mirror is described as an off-axis aspherical mirror:
http://contenant.ru/tezisy.pdf
(p. 189-192)

The same system was also the subject of a press release of the Shvabe holding in July 2017, which said it would enter production in the third quarter of that year.
https://ria.ru/20170731/1499460587.html

One of the authors of both the patent and the article is Anton O. Kazantsev, who is known to have worked for NPO Lepton back in 2009 (and may still work there now). His patronymic (Olegovich) strongly suggests that he is the son of NPO Lepton director Oleg Kazantsev.


Putting it all together, there is quite some evidence for NPO Lepton’s involvement in Nivelir:

1) judging from the 2018 Academy of Sciences presentation, it has worked on space surveillance systems together with NPO Lavochkin, the manufacturer of the 14F150 satellites.
2) in 2011 (the year that Nivelir got underway) CNIIHM, NPO Lavochkin (two key players in  Nivelir) and NPO Lepton filed a patent on a space telescope for observing “moving objects”.
3) in the same year NPO Lepton and NPO Optika started joint work on space telescopes. They worked on a Korsch type telescope and possibly also on a Cooke type telescope (which do seem to use a different optical assembly than the one described in the 2011 patent). Although flight hardware for those seems to have been finished several years ago, neither of the telescopes has flown on a civilian satellite or seems to be scheduled to fly on a future civilian satellite.

Korsch and Cooke type telescopes could be used for both Earth remote sensing and space surveillance missions. They were described as possible payloads for a constellation of satellites to observe the geostationary belt which was proposed by two NPO Lavochkin specialists in 2015.
https://www.laspace.ru/upload/iblock/fd1/fd1ace1832b2224dc012a18c14e2f6c7.pdf
(p. 15-22)

In their proposal, two types of satellites in highly elliptical orbits would be used to observe satellites in the geostationary belt. One, using the Karat-200 platform, would use a Cooke telescope with a focal distance of about 1 meter to perform surveys of the GEO belt from distances of 4,000 to 18,000 km. The other, using the heavier Navigator platform or an unknown platform called MSS-A, would use a Korsch telescope to make observations of GEO satellites from distances of 100 to 400 km.

The authors refer to Cooke telescopes with a “flat fourth mirror to shorten the optical system” (Western remote sensing satellites using the Cooke optical assembly, like WorldView-1 and QuickBird-2, have a fourth mirror to fold the light bundle for compact telescope packaging). This would lend support to the idea that the flat fourth mirror mentioned in the 2017 annual report of NPO Optika is indeed part of a Cooke type telescope.

 
As I have mentioned in earlier posts on Nivelir, Karat-200 is also likely to be the platform for Lavochkin’s 14F150 satellites (Navigator is too heavy to be lifted by the Soyuz-2-1v).  It is the successor of the Karat plaform, used by only two satellites (Zond-PP and Relek, launched in 2012 and 2014). Both satellites fell far short of their design lifetimes and other scientific satellites that originally were supposed to use Karat switched to the Karat-200 platform (although the first of those (Arka and Rezonans ) are now not expected to fly until the mid-2020s).

In the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread I talked about an unidentified Karat-200 based satellite shown in a presentation of an NPO Lavochkin official at the Army-2016 exhibition.  The presentation was given during a round-table discussion on the use of small satellites for military purposes. 
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43064.160
(Reply 170)

The slide in the background shows a Karat-200 platform with one and possibly two telescopes (see attachment 1). Unfortunately, the resolution of the picture is not high enough to decipher the text on the slide (except for the title “Monitoring of….”). 

It now turns out that the same satellite is also seen in an NPO Lavochkin presentation given in 2012:
https://present5.com/federalnoe-kosmicheskoe-agentstvo-rf-nauchno-proizvodstvennoe-obedinenie-im-s/

One slide (see attachment 2) shows six Karat-200 based satellites proposed at the time. The upper three are intended for “fundamental space research” and the lower three for “studies of the Earth and near-Earth space”. The satellite in the lower left is clearly the same one seen in the 2016 presentation. Could it be 14F150? 

Offline edzieba

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #5 on: 07/27/2020 01:49 pm »
Cosmos 2543 has been reported to have released a sub-object described as a weapons test. 2543 was previously assumed to be a Nivelir satellite, but it may be part of Burevestnik instead.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #6 on: 07/27/2020 09:40 pm »
Cosmos 2543 has been reported to have released a sub-object described as a weapons test. 2543 was previously assumed to be a Nivelir satellite, but it may be part of Burevestnik instead.

I doubt it. We have seen two "troika" missions with what appear to be identical satellites:
Kosmos-2519/2521/2523
Kosmos-2542/2543/object 45915 (no Kosmos number assigned (yet))

There is strong evidence for Kosmos-2519/2521 and 2542/2543 being part of the Nivelir project. If 2523 and object 45915 are ASAT projectiles, as claimed by the US, that would mean Nivelir not only has an inspection role, but a counterspace capability as well.

Burevestnik's ASAT payload appears to be some type of explosive charge rather than a projectile (see the Burevestnik thread for the evidence). This may have been tested during the Kosmos-2535/2536 mission, which produced a multitude of debris during close encounters between the two satellites, something not seen during the troika missions. Therefore Kosmos-2535/2536 (or at least one of them) look like much better candidates for being Burevestnik satellites.

The conclusion is that we may be witnessing tests of two separate co-orbital ASAT systems. But all of this, of course, remains very speculative.

Offline APFPilot

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #7 on: 07/28/2020 01:37 am »
Love that I’m watching Scott Manleys video referencing this thread while reading it!

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #8 on: 08/23/2020 11:35 pm »

Some new information on the Nivelir project:

1) NPO Lavochkin’s production plans for the period 2017-2025 called for the manufacture of five 14F150 satellites in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. The production schedule was published last year in an environmental impact assessment report related to Araks-R (14F155), a series of military radar reconnaissance satellites under development at NPO Lavochkin (see the attachment):
http://www.admhimki.ru/media/eds/elements/4cd652c3-10b8-4018-b4c3-a51bbfec083f.pdf

In the production schedule, 14F150 is described as an Earth remote sensing satellite for the Ministry of Defense (as is 14F155/Araks-R). Remote sensing could indeed be one of its missions, but the 14F150 satellites are also believed to carry optical equipment to observe orbiting satellites. The two launched so far (Kosmos-2519 and 2542) seem to have made long-distance observations of Kosmos-2486 (the second Persona reconnaissance satellite)  and the American reconnaissance satellite USA-245. In addition to that, the 14F150 satellites have served as launch platforms for small satellites built by CNIIHM (Kosmos-2521 and Kosmos-2543), which are also considered part of the Nivelir project. These in turn have ejected small objects (Kosmos-2523 and and an object so far registered only as 45915) that the Pentagon believes are ASAT projectiles.

A third 14F150 satellite was included in a list of NPO Lavochkin hardware to be shipped to Russian cosmodromes this year and it may well fly before the end of the year. The list was published here:
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=32008759248
If NPO Lavochkin sticks to its production plans, two more should be launched in the coming years, after which the 14F150 series will apparently come to an end.



2) Several contracts that have appeared on zakupki.gov.ru in the last two years or so can be linked to 14F150. Some of them were awarded for work under a contract for Nivelir signed between CNIIHM and NPO Lavochkin on December 1, 2011 (nr. 80/0027-I-12/839-G):

https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=32008938098&backUrl=83eb9080-f7b3-4469-baa8-a126b01de28a
A contract awarded by NPP Geofizika-Kosmos. Its role in the project is not mentioned, but the company specializes in Sun, Earth and star sensors for satellite attitude control systems.

https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/contract/public/contract/view/general-information.html?id=8797332
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/contract/public/contract/view/general-information.html?style44=false&id=8811595
Contracts awarded by the Nizhegorodsk Scientific Production Association Named After M.V. Frunze (NNPO imeni M.V. Frunze) for the delivery of microcircuits. The company’s role in the project is not clear. It has also ordered microcircuits for other types of satellites.

https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=32009399278&backUrl=271739cd-0c78-4f89-9918-3605207d1d33
This is recent procurement documentation of NPO Lavochkin for the delivery of aluminium sheets needed for the manufacture of 14F150 satellites. The same type of aluminium sheets have also been ordered for other types of satellites, so they are not specific to this project.

Other work was performed under a later contract between CNIIHM and NPO Lavochkin signed on August 22, 2014 (nr. 80/0095-I-14/1129-G):
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31806559759&backUrl=bc06a13c-bc43-4263-90e2-978edad4a077
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/contract/public/contract/view/general-information.html?id=6617690
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31908367412&backUrl=1b2c4224-266b-44f3-ad75-43e251d49f67
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/contract/public/contract/view/general-information.html?id=9136235

In one of the documents, the August 2014 contract is said to be for work called Nivelir-RKK. RKK most likely stands for “rocket and space complex”, which is a term used to describe all the elements needed to launch payloads into orbit (both the rocket and the cosmodrome infrastructure). Each military space project has an RKK designator (14K2..) in the system of GRAU indices, although few are known.  The designator 14K245 seen in one of the documents should be the one for Nivelir. Military space projects also have “space system” (14K0..) and “space complex” (14K1..) designators. The “space complex” designator for Nivelir is 14K167. The “space system” designator is not known.

All of the contracts awarded by NPO Lavochkin under Nivelir-RKK seem to be related to final processing of the 14F150 satellites at Plesetsk. Two of them are for equipment to test certain elements of the satellites, including the solar panels. The two others are for the delivery of hydrazine (by road) from the manufacturer in St.-Petersburg to Plesetsk. The 14F150 satellites are known to use К50-10.5 monopropellant hydrazine thrusters of OKB Fakel.

One of the documents mentions “a permanent TK” for 14K245. “TK” almost certainly stands for “technical complex”, which is the combination of cosmodrome buildings (assembly, satellite processing buildings and fueling stations) needed to prepare payloads for launch. That infrastructure may be shared by other CNIIHM satellites. Last year documentation appeared for the adaptation of existing satellite processing facilities at Plesetsk for the space complexes 14K167 (Nivelir), 14K168 (Burevestnik) and 14K177 (unknown, possibly Numizmat). That work is still in the design phase and may take several more years to complete (see the Burevestnik thread).

All this suggests that Nivelir is a project that will continue for many more years. Even if NPO Lavochkin’s 14F150 satellites have only three missions left to fly, that doesn’t mean the smaller CNIIHM Nivelir satellites will stop flying as well. Instead of hitching rides on 14F150, they can also be delivered to space in other ways. In fact, at least some of the CNIIHM satellites launched so far without the help of 14F150 (Kosmos-2491, 2499, 2504, 2535 and 2536) may be part of Nivelir. At a later stage, CNIIHM’s Nivelir satellites could potentially be launched by the air-launched “293” solid-fuel rocket under development for Nivelir’s sister project Burevestnik. Construction work is underway at Plesetsk’s airport allowing it to support flights of the MiG-31BM aircraft from which this rocket will be launched (see the Burevestnik thread).

So the 14F150 satellites would seem to have only a temporary role in the Nivelir project, offering just one of several ways to deliver the smaller CNIIHM satellites to orbit. After all, the prime contractor for Nivelir is not NPO Lavochkin, but CNIIHM, which received a government contract for the project on September 30, 2011. CNIIHM’s leading role in the project is also confirmed by some of the contracts mentioned above, which say that NPO Lavochkin is to pay its subcontractors with “money from the federal budget received by NPO Lavochkin from CNIIHM”.


3) 14F150 shows up in a PhD dissertation and several articles on solar panels written by Yaroslav Khmelnitskiy, who works for a company called ONPP Tekhnologiya Named After A.G. Romashin. The dissertation is here:
http://old.kai.ru/science/disser/files/file_235/text_diss.pdf
(p. 96-108)

ONPP Tekhnologiya among other things builds ultralight solar panel structures, some of them for NPO Lavochkin satellites (Luna Glob, Luna Resurs, Rezonans, Intergeliozond).
https://technologiya.ru/ru/458
It most likely does the same work for 14F150, even though the dissertation identifies the manufacturer as NPO Lavochkin. The photovoltaic cells for the solar panels are produced by NPP Kvant, as can be determined from the company’s annual report for 2016. Final integration of the solar panels is then likely to be performed by NPO Lavochkin itself. Another company known to have a role in Lavochkin’s part of the Nivelir project is PAO Saturn, which probably develops the lithium-ion batteries for the satellites. 


4) Court documents published in 2018 mention work called Nivelir-NP-S under a contract signed on March 25, 2013 between the Institute of Engineering Physics (IIF) and the Pilyugin Scientific Production Center of Automatics and Instrument Making (NPTsAP).
https://kad.arbitr.ru/Card/78dccff5-6f64-455c-96ae-930fba917c16

The documents do not reveal the purpose of Nivelir-NP-S (misspelled as Nevelir-NP-S), but a clue may be provided by a patent published in 2011 involving researchers from both IIF and NPTsAP:
https://findpatent.ru/patent/241/2415383.html
Here “NP” is used as an abbreviation for “navigation parameters”. More particularly, the patent deals with the use of a so-called hybrid inertial navigation system to determine the navigation parameters of both the launch vehicle and the payload that it places into orbit. IIF also plays a role in navigation support for NPOMash’s Neitron (14F01) satellites.


5) Court documentation released in April 2019 refers to work called Nivelir-MNK-PPPS-BMKT, assigned to AO Morelektroradiokomplekt (AO MERK) as part of a contract signed on April 5, 2018 (nr. 1731-G). 
http://docs.pravo.ru/document/view/110577244/124212395/

Nivelir-MNK-PPPS earlier showed up in procurement documents of ISS Reshetnev in late 2018:
http://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31807222813
http://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/common-info.html?regNumber=31807227145

“PPPS” stands for “mobile ground station for reception and transmission [of signals]], indicating the project will not only use fixed ground stations, but also some type of mobile ground stations. Fixed ground stations for Nivelir with the code names 1009/3, 1009/4 and 1009/5 are known to have been built in Yeniseisk (Siberia), Yelizovo (Kamchatka peninsula) and Noginsk-9 (Moscow region). There is also other evidence that ISS Reshetnev and its daughter company NPO PM Razvitiye  play a role in the development of ground stations for Nivelir (see the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread). The April 2018 contract referred to in the court document was presumably signed between CNIIHM and ISS Reshetnev, following which ISS Reshetnev subcontracted work under Nivelir-MNK-PPPS to AO MERK.  It is not clear what the abbreviation “BMKT” stands for. AO MERK mainly supplies electronic components for the Russian shipping industry, but it does other work as well.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #9 on: 12/28/2020 09:56 pm »
https://zakupki.gov.ru/223/purchase/public/purchase/info/documents.html?regNumber=32009858618

According to NPO Lavochkin shipment plans for 2021 published today, a 14F150 satellite is to be delivered to Plesetsk in the third quarter of the year. A 14F150 satellite was also in the shipment plans for 2020, but it wasn't launched this year. Possibly, it is already at the cosmodrome but still awaiting launch, with another satellite scheduled for delivery later in the year. Another possibility is that the satellite originally scheduled for delivery in 2020 will not be transported to Plesetsk until the 3rd quarter of 2021. As mentioned in the previous post, NPO Lavochkin's production plans for 2017-2025 called for the manufacture of five 14F150 satellites in 2017-2021.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #10 on: 09/02/2021 02:55 pm »
CNIIHM’s revamped website has a page dedicated to its space-related activities.
https://cniihm.ru/о-фгуп-цниихм/научные-направления/космические-средства-контроля/

It doesn’t describe any specific projects that CNIIHM is involved in, but does mention a ground support system that is known to be related to Nivelir as well as a telescope that may be related to Nivelir.

Integrated ground stations


According to the website, CNIIHM along with industrial partners has developed, built and is now successfully operating an “integrated ground station”, which is used for “automatic communications sessions” with satellites, measuring navigation parameters of satellites and storing and sending “telemetry and command information”.

As is known from a handful of other sources, integrated ground stations (Russian abbreviation OZS) combine the functions of sending commands to and receiving telemetry from satellites on the one hand and receiving data from satellites for subsequent processing and distribution to end users on the other hand. These are tasks that are traditionally split between individual ground stations in the Russian satellite ground support network. Moreover, uplink of commands is usually carried out by stations that support a wide variety of satellites, whereas reception and processing of information is usually performed by ground stations working in conjunction with one specific type of satellite. OZS stations would make it possible to combine those tasks for a single satellite system, making it easier among other things to protect data from unauthorized access.

OZS stations are known to have been built for Nivelir under work called Nivelir-MNK-OZS. Two of CNIIHM’s partners in this are ISS Reshetnev and its daughter company NPO PM-Razvitiye. I wrote about this in the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread a couple of years ago:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43064.300
(see post 313)

Although the CNIIHM website talks about a single OZS, there are actually at least two intended to support Nivelir. As mentioned in that post, one is situated at NIP-4 near Yeniseisk in Siberia and has the code name 1009/3. It has since become clear that another one (code-named 1009/4) is located at NIP-6 near Yelizovo on the Kamchatka peninsula (but it may not be operational yet). This can be determined from an environmental impact assessment report and several court documents:

https://e-ecolog.ru/reestr/doc/1103422
https://kad.arbitr.ru/Card/3cdcf01f-86d9-4a64-b001-9a0cde834cf4
https://kad.arbitr.ru/Card/81be4d71-a56a-4c92-aebb-6c444bdf748f
http://www.consultant.ru/cons/cgi/online.cgi?req=doc;base=KSOJ009;n=15825#06745294498446237

Although OZS stations have been linked in literature only to Earth remote sensing satellites, they presumably can also be used to receive space surveillance imagery. Both Earth remote sensing and space surveillance were given as objectives for the Kosmos-2519/2521 and Kosmos-2542/2543 missions in official announcements by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

CNIIHM concluded several contracts for OZS stations and related hardware in late 2011/2012, not long after it was named prime contractor for Nivelir in September 2011. Some of these are still available on zakupki.gov.ru, but don’t specifically refer to Nivelir. One was signed with NII TP in November 2011 and the related documentation says that the equipment would be used for receiving and processing Earth remote sensing data in the X-band (8025-8400 GHz) from “satellites of the Karat and Resurs-P types”.
https://zakupki.gov.ru/pgz/public/action/orders/info/order_document_list_info/show?source=epz&notificationId=1796015

Since CNIIHM was not involved in either of those projects, it also seems to supply the ground hardware for satellite projects run by other companies. Resurs-P is built by the Progress Rocket and Space Center and Karat was a platform developed by NPO Lavochkin that was flown only twice. Zond-PP, launched in 2012, carried experimental remote sensing payloads, including a hyperspectral camera built by NPO Lepton. Relek, orbited in 2014, was used mainly for magnetic field studies. However, the documentation may also have been referring to the upgraded Karat-200 platform that is possibly used by the 14F150 satellites that NPO Lavochkin has built for Nivelir (two flown so far as Kosmos-2519 and 2542).

More background on OZS stations was given in an article published earlier this year that discusses their possible use for a constellation of small remote sensing satellites.
https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=45567292
(full paper available for registered users of elibrary.ru)

The article explains the abbreviation “MNK” seen in Nivelir-MNK-OZS. “MNK” stands for “multifunctional ground complex” and it consists of three elements:
-a network of OZS stations 
-a mission control center
-a remote sensing data processing complex
The latter two can be located in one and the same place or in different places. All elements of the MNK are connected by communications and data relay systems. 

As can be seen in the attached diagram from the article, the OZS (объединенная земная станция) serves as an interface between the satellites and the mission control center (центр управления полетом) on the one hand and the remote sensing data processing center (наземный комплекс обработки данных ДЗЗ) on the other hand. Its purpose is to forward commands from the mission control center to the satellites and telemetry and navigation data from the satellites to mission control. It also relays raw imagery received from the satellites to the data processing center. 

According to an article published in 2020, OZS stations can be mobile and installed, for instance, in containers on ships.
http://spacedevice.ru/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2_p14_0704.pdf

It is worth noting in this respect that CNIIHM and ISS Reshetnev have also co-operated on something called Nivelir-MNK-PPPS, where PPPS stands for “mobile ground station for reception and transmission [of signals]”. As I mentioned in post 8 in this thread, part of the work was subcontracted to a company called AO MERK (AO MontazhEnergoRemontKomplekt)  under the name Nivelir-MNK-PPPS-BMKT. It is not clear what BMKT means, but AO MERK specializes in electronic systems for ships. This raises the possibility that Nivelir satellites can communicate with sea-based OZS stations when they are out of range of ground control stations on Russian territory.

Telescope

The new CNIIHM website also has a picture of an “optical telescope” for which CNIIHM received a patent in 2011 (see attachment 2). The patent (only in Russian) is here:
https://patents.s3.yandex.net/RU115933U1_20120510.pdf

I discussed it in post 4 in this thread. Little is revealed about its purpose other than that is suited to make uninterrupted observations of moving targets. There may be a link with Nivelir because the patent holders belong not only to CNIIHM, but also to NPO Lavochkin (which builds the Nivelir project’s 14F150 satellites) and NPO Lepton (a camera manufacturer which is known to have worked with NPO Lavochkin on space surveillance systems). It is obvious from the picture that this patent led to the production of actual hardware, but it is impossible to say whether the telescope went on to fly in space. The work may have remained limited to building a ground model.

It’s worth pointing out that one of the CNIIHM patent holders, Aleksandr Danilkin, was involved in research on multispectral and hyperspectral remote sensing systems. He co-authored an article on that subject in 2010:
https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=13084505&
(full paper available for registered users of elibrary.ru)

The two other authors of the the article, Igor Kozinov and Georgiy Maltsev of the Mozhaiskiy Military Space Academy, have written numerous articles on hyperspectral imaging systems, many of them dealing with the problem of transmitting large amounts of such images to Earth. While most of those focus on Earth remote sensing, one conference paper presented by Kozinov in early 2017 discusses the use of space-based multispectral and hyperspectral cameras to image other orbiting objects:
https://www.elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=35195992

Unfortunately, only the abstract and a few excerpts from the paper are available. It centers on the use of small satellites to observe space objects in the optical and infrared range of the spectrum in dozens or hundreds of narrow spectral channels in order to obtain images with high spatial and spectral resolution. It also examines the different imaging techniques needed to observe objects during high-speed flybys and low-speed close-up inspections. Both observation modes have been seen during the current Kosmos-2542/2543 mission. The two satellites flew in tandem early in the mission and Kosmos-2543 later conducted rendezvous and proximity operations with Kosmos-2535. Both Kosmos-2542 and 2543 have also performed high-speed flybys of the US reconnaissance satellite USA-245.   

It’s not at all certain that Kozinov’s paper had anything to do with Nivelir, but not all the research done by the Mozhaiskiy Academy is purely academic and the 2010 paper does suggest some type of cooperation between the Academy and CNIIHM in this field (and there are also some other signs that the two have certain ties). It will also be recalled that hyperspectral cameras are a specialty of NPO Lepton, another likely participant in Nivelir. Incidentally, Aleksandr Danilkin, who later moved from CNIIHM to TsNIIMash, and NPO Lepton director Oleg Kazantsev are two of the authors of the aforementioned article explaining the MNK/OZS system.

Although the evidence is still somewhat circumstantial, all this points to the possible use of multispectral/hyperspectral imaging systems in the Nivelir project to observe both ground-based and space-based targets. Whether the telescope patented in 2011 is one of those payloads remains open to discussion. 



Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #11 on: 09/23/2021 09:55 pm »
https://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_Space_Force_Commander_claims_Russia_has_armed_satellite_in_orbit_999.html

Quote
US Space Force Commander claims Russia has armed satellite in orbit

Russia already has deployed in low-earth orbit a "nesting doll" satellite armed with a weapon that can destroy US satellites vital for communications, command and control and precision targeting, Space Force Commander General John Raymond said on Tuesday.

"Russia has a nesting doll satellite [in orbit] to destroy US satellites, armed with a weapon to destroy US satellites," Raymond told the Air Force Association (AFA) Air Space Cyber Conference at National Harbor in the US state of Maryland. "It denies our ability to leverage space as a force multiplier."

Raymond claimed the satellite is designed like a Russian "nesting doll," with an outer casing that opens up to reveal an inner satellite shell and that shell also opens to reveal a weapon that can fire at and destroy US orbiting satellites from a safe distance.

He went on to posit that the satellite is targeted at destroying US space assets that are essential for accurate long-range precision targeting and fires for "smart" munitions launched from bombers and other weapons.

The Russian satellite Kosmos 2542 was launched in November 2019 and in December 2019, it released a sub-satellite, Kosmos-2543 which then carried out a series of manoeuvres that US military officials interpreted as a show of force, published reports said.

Russia has given no credence to the claims that the satellite system was offensive in nature.

I've posted this here because Raymond was actually referring to the "high-speed projectiles" released from Kosmos-2521 in 2017 and Kosmos-2543 in 2020, both of which are likely part of the Nivelir project. This is not the first time the Pentagon has made this claim.

The objects were ejected while Kosmos-2521 and 2543 were flying in the vicinity of another satellite (Kosmos-2519 and 2535 respectively), so US intelligence seems to believe that they were carrying out a simulated ASAT attack against these satellites (without destroying them). In Reply 1 in this thread I mentioned a PhD dissertation that may be related to Nivelir (the results of the research were used by the State Ryazan Instrument Factory (GRPZ), which is known to have a role in Nivelir). This describes a maneuver that is somewhat reminiscent of what happened during these missions.

Quote
One other clue that GRPZ is involved in developing satellite rendezvous technology comes in a PhD dissertation defended in 2015 by Kristina Mironova, another researcher of the Ryazan State Radiotechnical University.

http://www.dslib.net/mat-modelirovanie/metody-matematicheskogo-modelirovanija-upravlenija-malymi-kosmicheskimi-apparatami-na.html
(only a summary is available online)

Her dissertation was related to rendezvous and proximity operations between small satellites and GRPZ is given as one of the organizations where the results of her research were applied. The exact goal of the research is somewhat vague, but one of the things she did was to make computer simulations of small satellites being ejected from one platform and flying to another platform in space, as can be seen in the attached illustration from the dissertation (a femtosatellite (FS) flying from space platform 1 (KP 1) to space platform 2 (KP 2)).




Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #12 on: 11/22/2021 09:39 pm »
A document describing a court case between TsNIIMash and NPO Tekhnomash makes it possible to identify the Kosmos-2535 and 2536 satellites launched in July 2019 as 14F157 and 14F153 (or possibly vice versa). These are likely small satellites built by the CNIIHM institute and one or both may belong to the Nivelir program. More in the Kosmos-2535/2536/2537/2538 thread (see Reply 105):

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=48521.100

Another court case between TsNIIMash and NPO Tekhnomash revolved around the launch of a larger 14F150 satellite, NPO Lavochkin’s component of the Nivelir program. See these documents:

https://kad.arbitr.ru/Card/424ab2e4-04b2-4609-a259-86319c2b7f9a

Under a contract signed on June 29, 2019, NPO Tekhnomash was to provide a report to TsNIIMash on the “technical readiness” of a 14A15 (Soyuz-2-1v) rocket for the launch of what is called “14F150 (N1)”. The contract was most likely related to the launch of Kosmos-2542 in November 2019. The specific Soyuz-2-1v rocket used for this launch is identified in the documents as 14A15.BVV-RNS 1.

If N1 is the serial number of the satellite, this is somewhat strange, because Kosmos-2542 was the second such satellite, the first one being Kosmos-2519, launched in June 2017. A possible explanation is that “1” is the last digit of a longer serial number. According to  information published by Nicolas Pillet, Kosmos-2519 was “14F150 nr. 8120” and so its shortened serial number would be “N0”. See:
https://www.kosmonavtika.com/lancements/2017/23062017/23062017.html
If that is correct, Kosmos-2542 would be nr. 8121, explaining the “N1” in the court document. 14F150 N2 was mentioned in several procurement documents in 2016-2018 and is likely the third (yet-to-be launched) satellite in the series (with the full serial number 8122).

The information obtained by Nicolas Pillet also suggests that Kosmos-2521, the subsatellite deployed from Kosmos-2519 in 2017, has the index 14F162. Kosmos-2543, deployed from Kosmos-2542 in 2019, is almost certainly identical (both in turn deployed a “high-speed projectile”).  In other words, Nivelir would seem to be a general name for several satellites,  one built by NPO Lavochkin (14F150) and one or more built by CNIIHM . The least one can say is that what are generally called “inspector satellites” come in various types.


Offline Hamish.Student

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #13 on: 12/06/2021 08:55 am »
I just wanted to quickly say thankyou for compiling all this information, and the various other threads you have made. There is an absolute wealth of knowledge hidden in here, and it's been quite a rabbit hole learning about Nivelir and Burevestnik. 
Thankyou again!

Offline leovinus

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Re: Project Nivelir
« Reply #14 on: 08/03/2022 11:58 am »
Russian Military Satellite Appears To Be Stalking A New U.S. Spy Satellite
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/game-of-chicken-with-u-s-and-russian-satellites-may-be-underway

Quote
Russia has launched satellite 14F150 Nivelir into orbit under a mission dubbed Kosmos-2558, and its current orbital path could soon place it in close proximity to what is reported to be the spy satellite designated USA-326. Unconfirmed rumors that the asset will serve as an 'inspector' satellite to covertly spy on nearby spacecraft have begun to circulate online following the launch and would line up with Russia’s known on-orbit anti-satellite weapons capabilities and developments.

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