Kosmos-3M rocket launches fourth SAR-Lupe satellite

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Kosmos-3M rocket was used to launch SAR-Lupe 4.

A Russian Kosmos-3M rocket has launched the German SAR-Lupe 4 reconnaissance satellite into low Earth orbit. Lift-off, from area 132/1 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia, occurred at 17:15 GMT. The launch, which was originally scheduled to occur today, was moved up to Tuesday, and subsequently delayed twice due to strong winds at an altitude of 13 kilometres, which prevented launch.

SAR-Lupe is a German reconnaissance satellite constellation, consisting of five spacecraft. The first of these was launched in December 2006. The next satellite, SAR-Lupe 5, is scheduled for launch sometime around October 2008. The spacecraft are equipped with Synthetic Apperture Radar (SAR), which allows them to produce imagery at night, and through cloud cover.

The carrier rocket which was used, Kosmos-3M, is a derivative of the Soviet R-14 missile. It first flew in 1967, and the launch of SAR-Lupe 4 marks its 442nd flight. It is also the 900th launch of a member of the R-14 family of rockets.

The launch was declared successful, with the satellite reaching orbit at 17:43 GMT. It is the fourteenth orbital launch of 2008.