A RUSSIAN rocket launched a new-generation surveillance spacecraft Wednesday designed to give the Egyptian military a powerful “eye in the sky”.
THE launch of the Soyuz-U rocket took place as scheduled on April 16, 2014, at 20:20 Moscow Time (12:20 EST) from Site 31 in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The launch vehicle was carrying a Russian-built Egyptsat-2 satellite designed to provide high-resolution imagery for the Egyptian military and other government agencies in the country.
The spacecraft was successfully delivered into its planned orbit 520 seconds after liftoff.
The development and launch campaign for Egyptsat-2 has been conducted largely in secret. Only one visual of the operational spacecraft was released to the public by its manufacturer RKK Energia after the successful launch. Notably, in its post-launch press-release, the company avoided the use of name Egyptsat-2, instead identifying the satellite as a “spacecraft for optical-electronic observation developed for the foreign customer.”
RKK Energia announced that the satellite had been inserted into a 720 by 440-kilometer orbit with an inclination 51.6 degrees toward the Equator. Its ground facility established control over the satellite at 21:52 Moscow Time, the company said. Western radar detected two objects in orbit with similar parameters, probably representing the satellite and the third stage of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle.
The satellite was expected to use its own propulsion system to enter a final operational orbit.
Given Egypt’s current water dispute with Ethiopia and the threat of using force to stop the construction of the controversial Dam that Ethiopia is building over the Nile, the launch of a spy satellite perhaps capable of being used as a missile guidance system should be a source of serious concern for the Ethiopia regime. Russia also apparently trained Egyptian engineers to control the satellite from a ground station near Cairo that has been operational since October 2011.