On September 21, 2011 at 02:47 MSK (September 20, 2011, 22:47 UTC) Space Forces successfully launched a Proton-M rocket from the launch pad No. 24 of the launch complex No. 81 of the Baykonur launch site. The rocket and the Briz-M upper stage successfully delivered the satellite, Cosmos-2473, to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Cosmos-2473 is reported to be a new military relay satellite.

Cosmos-2473 was given an international designation 2011-048A and NORAD number 37806.

It is believed to be a satellite of a new type, identified as Garpun (Harpoon), which was developed to replace older Geizer satellites of the Potok system. This system was built to relay information from reconnaissance satellites in real time. The last Geizer satellite, Cosmos-2371 (26394), was launched in July 2000 and stopped operations in 2009. Satellites of the Potok system have three GEO stations reserved for them - 13.5W, 80E, and 168W. Only the first two have been used so far. Cosmos-2473 will most likely be deployed in the station at 80E.