RIA Novosti – A converted Russian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) put South Korea’s Kompsat-5 satellite into orbit on Thursday under the Dnepr satellite-launch program, a spokesman for Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) said.
“The satellite successfully separated from the third stage of the carrier rocket at 6:55 p.m. Moscow time [14:55 GMT],” the spokesman said.
The international space company Kosmotras, which operates a commercial expendable launch system using the RS-20 ICBMs (classified by NATO as the SS-18 Satan), said the launch took place from the Yasny launch base of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces in the southern Urals.
It was the 18th launch under the Dnepr program, which converts RS-20 ICBMs into carrier rockets to put satellites into space. Since 1999, a total of 65 spacecraft from 15 countries have been orbited.
The Kompsat-5 spacecraft, also known as Arirang 5, is a multipurpose Earth-remote-sensing satellite that will operate at an altitude of 550 kilometers (340 miles) providing images required to monitor natural disasters and identify natural resources. It was built by Alcatel Alenia Space and has a lifespan of five years.
The launch was initially planned for 2011 but was repeatedly postponed amid uncertainty surrounding the Dnepr program’s future.