MOSCOW – A Russian Proton-M rocket has successfully launched a space telescope into orbit after days of launch delays, the Russian space agency reported having delivered in a parking orbit before a recent Saturday fire that took the spacecraft out of orbit drove on to its final destination: the L2 Lagrange point.
Lagrange points are unique positions in the solar system where objects can maintain their position relative to the sun and the planets orbiting them. L2 is located 0.93 million miles from Earth and is particularly suitable for telescopes like Spektr-RG.
If all goes well, the telescope will reach its intended position in three months and is the first Russian spacecraft to operate out of orbit since the Soviet era. With the telescope a complete x-ray examination of the sky is to be carried out until 2025.
The Russian power is provided when the US space agency NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing of Apollo 11 in July 20, 1969.
Russian space exploration missions have suffered greatly since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Budget cuts have forced the Russian space program to make more commercial efforts.
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A Russian Mars probe called Mars 96 could not leave Earth orbit in 1996. A later attempt to move a probe called Fobos-Grunt to Mars 2011, suffered a similar fate in 2011.
The work on the Spektr RG telescope began in the 1980s, but was scrapped in the 1990s. Spektr-RG was revived in 2005 and made smaller, simpler and cheaper.
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In its modern form, the project is a close collaboration between Russian and German scientists who both installed telescopic equipment aboard the Russian spaceship.