Gonets (Russian Гонец, for Messenger) is a Russian civilian low Earth orbit communications satellite system. It consists of a number of satellites, derived from Strela military communications satellites. The first two satellites, which were used to test and validate the system, were launched by a Tsyklon-3 launch vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on 13 July 1992,[2] and were designated Gonets-D.[3] The first operational satellites, designated Gonets-D1, were launched on 19 February 1996.[3] After launch, the first three satellites were given military Kosmos designations, a practice which was not continued with the other satellites.[2]

A Gonets-M satellite at Salon du Bourget in 2013.
ManufacturerNPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki
Country of originRussia
OperatorGonets SatCom (1996-present)
Roscosmos (1992-1996)
Launch mass233 to 280 kg
Power40 watts from solar panels
EquipmentUHF transponders [1]
(B-band / D-band)
Data rate up to 64 kbit/s
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Design life5 years (planned)
Related spacecraft
Derived fromStrela

Ten operational satellites and two demonstration spacecraft have been placed in orbit. A further three were lost in a launch failure on 27 December 2000. A new series of modernised Gonets satellites, Gonets-D1M, supplement and replace the satellites which are currently in orbit. A single first D1M satellite was launched by a Kosmos-3M launch vehicle on 21 December 2005.[4] A second Gonets-D1M satellite was launched by a Rokot launch vehicle on 8 September 2010.[4]

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