It is hard to tell whether Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency, counted military satellites along with civilian ones when he said today that Russia has 97 spacecraft in orbit (81 of which are working as part of their constellations, nine are in reserve, and seven are “not working as part of their programs”, although it’s not clear why these are counted among operational satellites). It is quite possible that he did, although this wouldn’t have changed the number all that dramatically. If we don’t count communication and navigation satellites, which can be considered dual-purpose, there is not much left (in a bit of self-promotion, here is my recent article with an overview of the program). Three early-warning Oko satellites and two signal intelligence satellites – US-PU and Tselina – would probably be it. The only photo-reconnaissance satellite completed its mission just about a week ago.
It does not seem that the situation will change dramatically in 2005. The plan for this year, approved by the government in December, will give the Space Forces five launchers and seven satellites. There is little doubt that three of these satellites (and one Proton launcher) will be Glonass spacecraft. As we can see, this will be the only Glonass launch in 2005, most likely launched in December. Judging by the recent history of launches, we can expect a launch of Kosmos-3M launcher with two Strela-3 communication satellites. This leaves only two one-satellite launches to account for. [Update: This is a mistake. There is no room for a Strela-3 launch. After Glonass, there will be four satellites and four launches.]
The first of these remaining two [Update: this should be four] will be the launch of a military satellite, scheduled for January 20, 2005. The satellite will be launched from Plesetsk by a Kosmos-3M launcher alongside with a “Tatyana” spacecraft, developed by students of the Military Space Academy and the Moscow State University.
What will be the seventh military launch of 2005? It’s been a while since Russia launched an early-warning satellite, so we can expect a launch to complement the early-warning constellation. On the other hand, Russia usually launches at least one photo-reconnaissance satellite a year, so this could be one of those. We will see.