Russia to Launch Two Space Observatories Before 2025

PHOTO by Nikolai Zaytsev / RIA Novosti
The new X-ray and ultraviolet space observatories will be launched into orbit within the next decade

The Spektr-RG (X-ray) and Spektr-UV (ultraviolet) space observatories will both be launched before 2025, the RNS news service reported, citing the RAS council for space research.

The Spektr-RG project designed to watch objects on the X-ray electromagnetic spectrum is currently closest to completion and will be launched in 2017. Work on the first observatory, which is expected to cost 5.6 billion roubles, has been ongoing since 2007. With the weight of 2.4 tons, the craft will orbit in the area known as the Lagrangian point L2 of the Sun-Earth system (1.5 million kilometers from the Earth), where it is supposed to work for seven years.

The second observatory, Spektr-UV, designed to observe objects on the ultraviolet and visible electromagnetic spectrums, is scheduled for launch in 2021.

Costing ten billion roubles, the craft will work for five years at a circular orbit approximately 36,000 kilometers above the earth's surface. Spektr–UV is expected to outperform similar devices part of the Hubble telescope, and will include a telescope with a main mirror measuring 1.7 meters in diameter.

Two more space complexes are also in development for launch at a later date. Work on the new projects, including the Millimetron (Spektr-M) space observatory and an Earth-Space interferometer, began in 2009.

Scientists believe the later space complex, named the Spektr-M project, will obtain unique information about the global structure of the Universe, as well as the structure and evolution of galaxies, their cores, stars and planet systems. Weighing 6.5 tons and costing roughly 11 billion roubles, the Spektr-M craft is expected to be in service for ten years.

Alongside this will be the Gamma-400 space observatory designed primarily to detect gamma rays and explore “dark matter” in the Universe. When it is launched in 2026, onboard equipment is expected to outperform all rivals – Russian or otherwise.

In the meantime, the current Spektr-R (RadioAstron) observatory launched in 2013 will continue working in orbit. The telescope is supposed to remain operational through to 2018.