The Russian Defense Ministry is working on a network of spy satellites that can be used to detect launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This week, the Defense Ministry has launched another satellite to track incoming missiles fired from the continental United States. The new Russian military satellite was launched from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

According to Space Flight Now, the Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed reports of the successful launch of the third part of the Unified Space System (USS-3) Tundra, which was designed to detect and warn about missile launches from the United States.

The new early warning satellite was launched as a part of the country’s ongoing effort to build a network of space-based early warning systems. The first satellite of the Tundra system was launched on November 17, 2015. In December 2016, General Pavel Kurachenko confirmed plans to put 10 Tundra satellites into Earth orbit by 2020.

The new satellite’s journey

As mentioned earlier by Space Flight Now, the Russian-built Soyuz-2.1b rocket dropped its four liquid-fueled first-stage rocket boosters around two minutes after liftoff from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. After the release of the rocket boosters, around nine minutes into the space mission, the Soyuz third stage positioned itself and deployed a Fregat upper stage on a suborbital trajectory.

Then, the Fregat upper stage fired multiple times to place its satellite payload into the targeted orbit, which, according to the website, has an altitude ranging from around 1,022 miles to 23, 945 miles above the Earth's surface.

The target orbit matches the orbits of the first two Tundra series of early warning satellites that were launched on November 2015 and May 2017.

After the successful delivery of the satellite payload, the Russian Defense Ministry established a stable telemetric connection with the new Tundra early warning satellite and then confirmed to the public that the system on-board the new satellite are functioning normally.

The egg-shaped Molniya-type orbits used by the Tundra early warning satellites provide the Russian Defense Ministry thermal infrared sensor long view of the Earth’s northern hemisphere.

The orbit provides the perfect place to detect ballistic missile launches from continental America and detect missiles that approach Russian territory.

The new satellite will replace the aging space-based missile detection system

Like the United States, Russia also uses early-warning satellites and ground-based radar systems to track missiles and warn of missile threats. The third Tundra, or EKS early warning satellite, was launched to replace the older missile detection system, Russia’s Oko series of early-warning satellites. The new satellite system carries sophisticated infrared telescopes for detecting and tracking heat sources emitted by the missiles. It can detect targets up to 600 miles above the Earth’s surface, according to the news website, The Sun.

The Tundra early warning satellite system was developed by the Moscow-based Corporation of Special Purpose Space Systems Kometa LLC, with some technical contribution from the SA Lavochkin Research and Production Association LLC. In naming the new satellite, the Russian Defense Ministry used the traditional naming scheme for military spacecraft, they named it Kosmos 2541.