Russia launching missile to put Thai satellite into orbit

August 5th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by IANS  

RIA Novosti
Moscow, Aug 5 (RIA Novosti) Russia will launch a converted RS-20 Voyevoda intercontinental ballistic missile to put a Thai earth observation satellite into orbit Wednesday, the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) has said. The launch from a silo in the southern Urals will be carried out under a contract with Kosmotras, a Russian-Ukrainian joint venture, which converts RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), scrapped by Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces, into Dnepr launch vehicles.

“The missile, which was decommissioned in 2005 and kept in storage at the Yasny launch site in southern Urals, has been approved as a launch vehicle for spacecraft,” an SMF spokesman said Monday.

The THEOS satellite was designed and manufactured by French company EADS Astrium under a 2004 contract with the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology. The launch has been delayed twice due to Russia’s failure to agree with Uzbekistan on where to let spent rocket stages fall.

THEOS will provide Thailand with worldwide geo-referenced image products and image-processing capabilities for applications in cartography, land use, agricultural monitoring, forestry management, coastal zone monitoring, and flood risk management.

The Thai satellite will be the third to be launched by Russia’s SMF and Kosmotras from the Yasny launch site. Russia launched the Genesis I and Genesis II inflatable spacecraft from the same location in July 2006 and June 2007, under a contract with US-based company Bigelow Aerospace.

Russia earlier said the SS-18 remains the most powerful ICBM in the world and will stay in service with the SMF until 2014-16.

The missile can carry a MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) warhead with a yield of 550 to 750 kt (Kilotonnes).

The missile has a maximum range of 11,000 km.
RIA Novosti

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