Russia To Launch Earth-Scanning Satellite

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MOSCOW, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Russia says its first Earth remote sensing satellite, intended to provide radar imagery and terrain mapping in real-time, may be launched in January 2012.

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

The 1,700-pound Kondor will be launched as part of Russia’s Arktika Earth observation satellite grouping to scan the globe’s arctic regions, he said.

“As a rule, 90 percent 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 indispensable,” Shilov said.

Shilov said there were plans to launch two other Earth optical observation satellites in 2012 to provide monitoring of natural and man-made disasters, particularly wildfires and environmental pollution.

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