JSC Academician M.F. ReshetnevInformation Satellite Systems

1971-1980

In the 1970s satellite systems developed by the Reshetnev Company and based on Molniya-1 and Molniya-2 satellites were still operational in orbits providing communications services in remote areas where conventional ground-based communications were not available. Meanwhile Mikhail Reshetnev’s KB PM was working hard on projects on satellite navigation. Alongside with Tsiklon satellites, the company started building next-generation communications and navigation satellites Tsiklon-B and Tsikada intended for low Earth orbits. And by the end of the decade the company went ahead with designing a conceptually new global navigation satellite system comprising satellites in medium Earth orbits. The system later got its name – GLONASS.

Soviet space geodesy at that time was represented mainly by Sfera satellites which were also designed and constructed by Siberian engineers led by Mikhail Reshetnev. The Sfera space-based satellite system helped create a geodetic Earth reference model and build a  global geodetic network in 1977. In a separate development, the company was busy developing next-generation Geo-IK geodetic satellites.

The 1970s also saw impressive results achieved in the field of telecommunications. Satellites of the Molniya-1, Molniya-1 and Molniya‑3 series in addition to providing services to special users also broadcasted television programs via a network of ground-based Orbita stations spread across the country.

One of the company’s main achievements that marked the decade was that it began constructing and launching satellites to geostationary orbit. A little more than a year had passed since the launch of an experimental Molniya-1S satellite when a Raduga satellite was launched into geostationary orbit in December 1975. It was intended to relay television signals to ground stations of the Orbita network. This event ushered in a new era of the Soviet space technology. In 1978 a Gorizont satellite was delivered into orbit. It was unofficially dubbed “the Olympic satellite” because satellites of this type were tasked with providing television and radio coverage of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. During the same decade the Reshetnev Company made yet another significant breakthrough – developed a series of direct-to-home broadcasting satellites Ekran which formed the core of the world’s first direct broadcasting satellite system.

In 1977 the Ministry of General Machine Building decreed that the Scientific and Production Association of Applied Mechanics (NPO PM) would be established. NPO PM included the Design Bureau of Applied Mechanics (KB PM) and the Mechanical Plant. Mikhail Reshetnev was appointed director general and chief designer of NPO PM.