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55 years of communication satellite Molniya-1

April 23, 2020

On April 23, 1965, the first domestic communication spacecraft Molniya-1 was launched into a low-earth orbit. The experimental relay satellite developed by OKB-1 (now RSC Energia) provided television broadcasting and radiocommunications to the most remote areas of our country, having opened up a new area in the national cosmonautics in development and operation of automatic space communications and telecommunications systems.

The development of the satellite communications system of the USSR began in 1961 on the initiative and under the leadership of the chief designer of OKB-1 Sergey Pavlovich Korolev. The result is that the next day after the successful launch of Molniya-1 spacecraft, the first satellite communication session between Moscow and Vladivostok was held. And on May 1, 1965 residents of the Far East first saw a celebratory demonstration of working people on Red Square in Moscow on television screens. Following the launch of the next four satellites, multichannel space radio communication covered the main regions of the Far North, Far East and Central Asia, and a live broadcast of the Central Television programs became regular and publicly-accessible to them.

Since 1967 the Orbita ground stations network began to be deployed for Molniya-1 system, which expanded the broadcasting area in all time zones. By this time, communication satellites were already manufactured and launched by the Krasnoyarsk branch of OKB-1 (OKB-10, now JSC ISS), headed by Deputy of S.P. Korolev, chief designer M.F. Reshetnyov.

At a later stage a series of Soviet and then Russian Molniya-1-based communications satellites was developed: Molniya-1+ (1967), Molniya-2 (1971), Molniya-3 (1974), Molniya-1T (1983) and Molniya-3K (2001).

In the middle 1990s RSC Energia in collaboration with OAO Gazcom got back to development of space communication satellites. The crowning achievement in this area was development of new-generation geostationary telecommunication satellites Yamal-100 (1999) and Yamal-200 (2003), the Russias first ever satellites implemented based on an unpressurised satellite bus with a long operational lifetime. The Yamal satellites opened the way to commercialization of space activities in Russia.

 

 

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