Russia Launches Secret Military Payload Into Orbit

Kremlin space chiefs have launched a secret military payload into orbit around the earth using Russia's new Angara 1.2 rocket.

The launch took place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the town of Mirny in the north-western Russian region of Arkhangelsk Oblast on April 29.

A statement said that a space "combat crew" had launched the unidentified payload for the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Russia space launch
Russian Aerospace Forces successfully launched the Angara-1.2 launch vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia on April 29, 2022. Ministry of Defense of Russia/Zenger

It is understood that it was likely launching a top secret new radar military satellite system into space for use in the war in Ukraine.

Video footage of the nighttime launch shows the rocket powering its way through the sky from a remote site.

The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement on April 30: "From the State Test Cosmodrome of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation (Plesetsk Cosmodrome) in the Arkhangelsk Region, the combat crew of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces [VKS] successfully launched an Angara-1.2 light-class launch vehicle with a spacecraft in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defence.

"The launch of the carrier rocket and the launch of the spacecraft into the calculated orbit took place in the normal mode.

"Two minutes after the launch, the Angara-1.2 launch vehicle was accepted for escort by ground controls of the Titov Main Test and Space Systems Control Centre."

The statement went on: "At the estimated time, the spacecraft was launched into orbit and accepted for control by the ground facilities of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces. Stable communication was established and maintained with the spacecraft, and its onboard systems are operating in normal mode.

"After the spacecraft was launched into orbit, officers of the Space Control Centre entered data into the Main Catalogue of Space Objects of the Russian Space Control System, and proceeded to analyse and process information about the new space object in order to accept it for tracking by ground facilities of the Main Space Intelligence Centre of the VKS.

"In total, over 30 ground-based measuring instruments and over 50 combat crews of the 15th Aerospace Forces Army (Special Purpose) were involved in ensuring the launch of the spacecraft of the Russian Ministry of Defence."

Russia Angara
Russian Aerospace Forces successfully launched the Angara-1.2 launch vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia on April 29, 2022. Ministry of Defense of Russia/Zenger

This was the first operational flight of Angara 1.2 following a suborbital test flight to check that all systems worked, and three test flights of the Angara-A5 variant to test its effectiveness at launching payloads into orbit.

The identity of the payload has yet to be revealed and the spacecraft was designated Kosmos 2555 after the successful launch.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.