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Russia may launch its first Earth remote sensing satellite in 2012

Russia’s first Earth remote sensing satellite, the Kondor, may be launched in January 2012, a space official said on Thursday.

“We are developing Kondor and Arkon [satellites],” deputy head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos Anatoly Shilov said. “Arkon is a distant future, but Kondor will hopefully fly in January.”

The Kondor is an 800 kg Earth remote-sensing spacecraft designed to provide high-resolution radar imagery and terrain mapping in real-time. It will be launched as part of the so-called Arktika Earth observation satellite grouping.

“As a rule, 90% of the time the Arctic region is covered with clouds or remains in darkness due to long polar night season. In such conditions these satellites are indispensible,” Shilov said.

The official added that Russia was planning to launch in 2012 two Earth optical observation satellites – the Resurs-P and the Canopus-B – to provide precision monitoring of natural and man-made disasters, particularly wildfires and environmental pollution.