[SatNews] Russia on Tuesday launched a carrier rocket from its northern Plesetsk space center to put a military satellite in orbit, the Defense Ministry said... odds are that the satellite is a Kobalt-class imaging satellite that was built expressly for Russian military use.
A Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off on schedule at 5:49 p.m. Moscow time (13:49 GMT), according to Col. Alexei Zolotukhin, a spokesman for Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces. The satellite will operate in high inclination orbits between 150 and 300 miles above the Earth. This was the second launch of a Soyuz-2 rocket from Plesetsk this year, the first being on March 24th, which delivered a Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit, Zolotukhin said. Soyuz-2.1a, a three-stage carrier rocket with digital flight control system, was first launched in 2011 and will be continue to be used at Plesetsk Cosmodrome to deliver military spacecraft to orbit.
The Kobalt satellite will be used for reconnaissance and, if it is of the "M" class, packs an optical camera for hi-rez photos of various sites around the world. For the many months the satellite will be in orbit, film canisters are used to retain the imagery—the canisters are then ejected for recovery and, when they reach Earth, the film is retrieved for Russian military analysis. (Source: RIA Novosti)