According to media reports, Russia just lofted a military communications satellite.
A Soyuz rocket topped with a spacecraft which is called Meridian-M launched yesterday (March 2022) from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwestern Russia, rising off the pad at 8:48 a.m. EDT, according to the state-owned news agency Ria Novosti, which cited Russian military officials.
“Satellites of the ‘Meridian’ series provide communication between sea vessels and ice reconnaissance aircraft in the area of the Northern Sea Route with coastal and ground stations,” Ria Novosti wrote (in Russian; translation provided by Google). “Also, the devices expand the capabilities of satellite communication stations in the northern regions of Siberia and the Far East.”
Yesterday’s launch was the second that Russia has performed since invading Ukraine on February 24. On March 18, a Soyuz launcher from the Russia-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan sent Denis Matveev, cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Korsakov to the ISS.
The trio entered the orbiting lab a few hours later wearing blue-and-yellow flight suits, the national colors of Ukraine. This prompted some people to speculate that the cosmonauts may have expressed support for the invaded nation. However, Russian space officials have dismissed that interpretation.
This month There was supposed to be another liftoff from Baikonur; On March 4, 2022, a Soyuz operated by French company Arianespace was scheduled to launch 36 internet satellites for OneWeb which is a London-based company.