Another Apparent Russian Launch Failure

A Russian military mapping satellite apparently failed to reach its intended orbit on Tuesday and may be declared lost. AFP reports that Russian defense ministry officials confirmed that they were still trying to establish contact with Geo-IK-2 after its launch from the northern Russia launch site in Plesetsk. This satellite was meant to generate three-dimensional maps of the Earth and locate the precise positions of various targets. Russian space and military officials said the satellite may have ended up in an elliptical orbit that brings it much closer to the Earth than its intended circular orbit, making it unable to perform its intended functions. An anomaly with the launch vehicle’s upper stage may have caused the bad orbital placement. This incident follows Russia’s failed attempt to place three Glonass-M navigation satellites into orbit back in December.