JSC Academician M.F. ReshetnevInformation Satellite Systems

40 years of the satellite “Sfera”

The satellite “Sfera” developed by NPO PM was successfully launched 40 years ago, on February 20, 1968. This was an epoch-making event, unveiling space geodesy to the world.

They started developing the satellite in 1963 on order of the Directorate of Military Survey of the USSR Armed forces headquarters. The idea of its creation appeared when it became a necessity to build up a world surface unified coordinate system and geodesic “bridges” over continents and islands, there was also a number of other tasks. With the “Sfera” satellites they managed to specify the Earth’s shape and dimensions and its gravity field parameters. The results became revolutionary for the science of that period, since the traditional geodesy methods didn’t allow to achieve the results within a short period of time.

The first spacecraft “Sfera” was launched from the “Plesetsk” Cosmodrome on 20 February, 1968. The satellite injection into the low circular orbit traced a new step in development of astronautics and scientific researches. With only 6 months of lifespan the satellite “overlived” for 1 year and 3 months. A new geodesic system “Sfera” was created based on these satellites.

Totally there were 18 satellites “Sfera” launched into orbit. Creation and successful work of these satellites was the beginning of space geodesy. Having a large experience NPO PM specialists managed to go further in development of this issue and transfer to development and production of geodesy satellites of the next generation.