On December 21, 2005 Russia successfully launched Kosmos-3M rocket with Gonets-M and Cosmos-2416 satellites from the Plesetsk launch site (launch pad No. 1 of the launch complex No. 132). Gonets-M is a satellite of the new-generation Gonets-D1M communication system, Cosmos-2416 is most likely a military communication satellite of the Strela-3 type or its modification, used by the military intelligence.
The launch was performed by the Space Forces with support of the APO Polyot launch crews at 22:34 MSK (22:34 DMV, 19:34 UTC). According to the Main Space Command and Control Center of the Space Forces, the spacecraft successfully reached their orbits at 23:28 MSK. International designations and NORAD catalog numbers of the satellites are 2005-048A/28908 and 2005-048B/28909 (at this point it is unknown which of these corresponds to Gonets-M and which to Cosmos-2416. UPDATE 05/23/2008: NORAD lists 28908 as Cosmos-2416 and 28909 as "Gonets D1M 1").
According to NORAD, the spacecraft are deployed on orbits with the following parameters: 2005-048A/28908 - inclination 82.5 degrees, orbital period 114.82 minutes, apogee 1470 km, perigee 1450 km; 2005-048B/28909 - inclination 82.5 degrees, orbital period 114.74 minutes, apogee 1470 km, perigee 1450 km.
Satellites of Gonets/Strela-3 type have been deployed in two orbital planes so far. The December 22, 2005 launch placed satellites into plane No. 2. The last completely successful launch into that plane was on February 19, 1996. A launch on June 15, 1998 was a partial success - satellites failed to reach nominal orbits. Another launch, on December 27, 2000, ended in a failure of the Tsyklon-3 launcher, which was used for Gonets/Strela-3 launches until 2002. The most recent successful launch of Gonets/Strela-3 satellites was conducted on September 23, 2004.
This launch was initially scheduled for 22:40 MSK on December 20, 2005, but was postponed for technical reasons.