Meridian (Russian: Меридиан) is a family of telecommunications satellites for civil and military use developed by Russia in the 2000s placed in a Molniya Orbit and intended to replace the two last series of Molniya satellites still in activity, as well as the old Parus satellites. The first launch took place on 24 December 2006, aboard a Soyuz 2.1a. Seven satellites were launched between 2008 and 2014, six of which reached orbit. A second generation of satellite, Meridian-M was ordered, and the first unit was launched on 30 July 2019.
This family of satellites is developed in the mid-2000s by the main Russian satellite manufacturer ISS Reshetnev who had already built the Molniya satellites. According to unofficial sources, the satellite uses 3 axes stabilized pressurized platform. Certain components like the on-board computer and the propulsion would be common with the Uragan-M satellites of the Glonass satellite navigation system. The manufacturer indicated that the satellites of the series with a mass of approximately 2000 kg, have orientable solar arrays and carry three transponders designed to work with the Raduga satellites. The lifespan announced by the manufacturer is 7 years.
Like its predecessors, the Meridian satellites are placed in a very elliptical Molniya orbit of 900 × 39000 km x 63° which allows them to remain during a large part of their orbit visible from Arctic areas poorly served by geostationary telecommunications orbits. The launcher used is a Soyuz 2.1a with a Fregat upper stage which is launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. The satellite is for mixed civil and military use. Given their orbit, they are mainly intended to provide links with ships and planes operating in the Arctic Ocean, as well as with stations based in the Far East and Siberia.
The first satellite in the series quickly fell victim to space debris according to the Russian authorities. It remains in orbit.
The numbering of the satellites is quite specific. The manufacturer ISS Rechetnyov begins numbering its satellites at 11, the first numbers being reserved for test specimens. The letter L is attached to the number to indicate that it is a flying copy (лётный in Russian). Thus, the first satellite is called Meridian n°11L.
Last update: 1 March 2020
|Launch base||Success||COSPAR ID||Notes|
|Meridian n°11L||Soyuz 2.1a||24 December 2006
|Site 43/4||✓||2006-061A||Hit by space debris
First Meridian satellite in orbit.
|Meridian n°12L||Soyuz 2.1a||21 May 2009
|Site 43/4||~||2009-029A||Partial Success : Perigee lower than planned.|
|Meridian n°13L||Soyuz 2.1a||2 November 2010
|Meridian n°14L||Soyuz 2.1a||4 May 2011
|Meridian n°15L||Soyuz 2.1a||23 December 2011
|Site 43/4||✕||–||Failure : Launch failed, Meridian crashed in Altai.|
|Meridian n°16L||Soyuz 2.1a||14 November 2012
|Meridian n°17L||Soyuz 2.1a||30 October 2014
|Site 43/4||✓||2014-069A||Last flight of a first generation satellite.|
|Meridian-M n°18L||Soyuz 2.1a||30 July 2019
|Site 43/4||✓||2019-046A||First flight of the modernized Meridian-M version.|
|Meridian-M n°19L||Soyuz 2.1a||20 February 2020
|Site 43/3||✓||2020-015B||First flight from Site 43/3.|
|Meridian-M n°20L||Soyuz 2.1a||Mid 2020||Site 43/?||-||–|
|Meridian-M n°21L||Soyuz 2.1a||Early 2022||Site 43/?||-||–||Last Meridian-M ordered.|
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