The Russian Space Forces conducted a successful launch of the Soyuz-2.1a launcher, delivering into orbit a Meridian communication satellite. The launch took place at 11:34 MSK (08:34 UTC) on 24 December 2006 from the launch pad No. 4 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk space launch site. The launch is reported to be part of the flight tests of the Soyuz-2 launcher.
The Meridian spacecraft received international designation 2006-061A and NORAD catalog number 29668. According to NORAD data, Meridian was deployed in an orbit with inclination of 62.83 degrees, orbital period of about 726 minutes, apogee of 39760 km, and perigee of 1030 km. This is a highly-elliptical orbit, traditionally used by Molniya-type communication satellites.
The Meridian spacecraft was built by the Reshetnev NPO in Zheleznogorsk. It will provide communication to ships and aircraft in polar regions, complementing the communication network that uses Gorizont and Ekspress-A spacecraft.