A fresh photo above shows some construction activity at the Chekhov radar site near Moscow. The old Dunay-3U radar that was built there in the late 1970s as part of the missile defense system, but has been used mostly for space surveillance in recent years. Or, rather, half of the radar - it's eastward-looking part of the radar has been shut down.
Now there seems to be a fresh construction activity at the radar site - there is nothing there at the September 2015 Google Earth image:
There is also some fresh construction at the transmitter site (which Google doesn't show yet):
The purpose of this activity is not entirely clear. A rumor has it that it might be related to (among other things) to the Nudol ASAT program.
Dmitry Donskoy submarine of the Project 941 class will remain in service until 2020, according to an industry source quoted in the Russian press. The submarine, which was used to as a test bed for Bulava missile, is expected to take part in tests of a Bulava follow-on.
The last time Dmitry Donskoy launched Bulava was in October 2010. After that, all Bulava launches were conducted from Project 955 submarines. In the most recent one, in November 2015, two missiles were launched from Vladimir Monomakh.
On June 21, 2016 the Air and Space Forces successfully tested a short-range interceptor of the A-135 missile defense system. The interceptor, apparently 53T6, known as Gazelle, was launched at 7:00 MSK (4:00 UTC) and is said to have successfully reach its goal. The test was supported by the Sary-Shagan crews of the Strategic Rocket Forces and industry representatives.
This appears to be a regular annual test of the interceptor. The previous one took place in June 2015.
On June 4th, 2016 the Space Forces conducted a launch of a Rockot space launcher (converted UR-100NUTTH missile) with the Geo-IK-2 geodetic satellite. The launch was performed at 17:00 MSK (14:00 UTC) from the launch pad No. 3 of the launch complex No. 133 of the Plesetsk launch site. The rocket was equipped with a Briz-KM booster stage.
The satellite, delivered into a sun-synchronous orbit with inclination of 99.3 degrees and altitude of about 950 km, was registered as object 41579 by the NORAD and received international designation 2016-034A. After the spacecraft reached its working orbit it was designated Cosmos-2517.
The Air and Space Forces performed a successful launch of a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the launch pad No. 4 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk space launch site. The launch took place at 11:44:37 MSK (08:44:37 UTC) on May 29, 2016. The satellite that the rocket and its Fregat boost stage delivered into orbit is a Glonass-M navigation satellite.
The satellite is known as Glonass No. 53 and is likely to be designated Cosmos-2516. The satellite received international designation 2016-032A and was registered by NORAD as object 41544.
Previous Glonass launch took place in February 2016.
According to Bill Gertz's Pentagon sources, Russia conducted another test of the Nudol ASAT system on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. The test is said to be successful.
This would be the fourth test of the system and the second successful one. No details are available yet, but so far the tests did not seem to involve an intercept attempt (or simulated intercept).
The Barguzin rail-mobile ICBM project just doesn't want to die. After a report about the program being cut (which I consider quite reliable) we have seen a number of stories that suggest that some work continues - first, an industry source was quoted as saying that "some elements of the system" are being built, and now Yuri Solomonov of MITT is saying that the first "pop-up" tests of the missile will take place in the fourth quarter of 2016.
There is no contradiction here, in fact. Even if the program funding was cut (as it apparently was), it makes perfect sense for MITT to continue the work with their own funds, hoping that the funding get restored in fatter years (assuming that they will come).
Interfax quotes an industry source as saying that the new-generation geostationary early-warning satellite will not be ready for launch in 2016. According to the report, the satellite is still in production and the manufacturers (RKK Energiya is the lead contractor) are awaiting results of the tests of the first satellite of the EKS system. The satellite, Cosmos-2510, was launched into highly-elliptical orbit in November 2015. According to the Interfax source, two HEO satellites have been manufactured so far, one of them is in orbit.
The Interfax report appeared shortly after other reports suggested that the new early-warning satellite will be launched by a heavy Angara-A5 launcher by the end of 2016. The launcher made its maiden flight (with a satellite mockup) in November 2015. The 2016 Angara-A5 launch would probably still take place, but with a different satellite, Angola's Angosat. The GEO EKS launch, which will probably use Angara-A5 as well, appears to be moved to at least 2017.
As it turns out, information about tests of the Nudol ASAT system has been hiding literally in plain sight - in Jonathan McDowell's log of suborbital launches. A colleague alerted me to the fact that dates and times in the list are quite accurate. "GNIIP" in the table is the GNIIP-53 test site otherwise known as Plesetsk.
The list includes three tests of a 14Ts033 (14Ц033) system, which is apparently the designation of the entire system (rather than 14А042, which appears to be the missile). There were three test launches - on 12 August 2014, 22 April 2015, and 18 November 2015. As we know, only the third one was successful (although none of them involved an intercept).
UPDATE: The April 22, 2015 test was, in fact, reported at the time - as a failed test of a missile for the Antey-2500 air defense system. The missile was said to fail shortly after launch and all the debris landed within the perimeter of the test site.