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IET Milsatcoms Online: 9-12 March 2021

Arktika-M spacecraft thermal vacuum tests completed

(2 December 2020 - Roscosmos) Thermal vacuum tests of the Arktika-M spacecraft have been successfully conducted at Roscosmos Rocket and Space Industry Scientific Test Center in Peresvet.

The tests are part of the presentation and acceptance tests of the spacecraft in the conditions simulating the outer space effects (deep vacuum, cold ‘black’ space, heating by the Sun, etc.).

arktika 1

Arktika-M (courtesy: Roscosmos)

The operability of the spacecraft systems in an environment close to operating conditions was checked in the VK 600/300 thermal vacuum unit. Previously, other NPO Lavochkin spacecraft based on the Navigator platform were successfully tested in this chamber. Those include Spektr-RG, Electro-L No. 1, 2, 3. After the tests, the spacecraft was returned to NPO Lavochkin for further ground checks.

The Arktika-M and Electro-L-type spacecraft are based on the unified Navigator platform and have almost identical target equipment. The main difference is the way of solving the target task: Electro-L conducts regular (every 15-30 minutes) surveying the Earth from a geostationary orbit, and Arktika-M conducts a similar survey of the Arctic region of the Earth (inaccessible for continuous observation from geostationary orbit), while staying in the apogee region of the Molniya-type high elliptical orbit (in this area, the observation conditions are comparable to the possibilities of observation from the geostationary orbit).

The Arktika-M spacecraft operational orbit requires increased equipment radiation protection, larger solar batteries. In addition, continuous observation of the Arctic region from a Molniya-type highly elliptical orbit requires sequential use of at least two spacecraft, alternately replacing each other in the orbit working section located in its apogee. Therefore, the orbital group requires two Arktika-M spacecraft minimum.