Molniya-1 satellite: celebrating 50 years since launch
April 23, 2015 marks 50 years since the launch of the first communications satellite of the Molniya family into a highly elliptical orbit.
It was Molmiya-1 satellites that paved the way for the widespread and regular use of artificial Earth satellites for television broadcasting purposes. The world’s first satellite television distribution network named Orbita was also based on satellites of the Molniya-1 series.
Besides, the space system which was comprised of Molniya-1 satellites enabled 24-hour two-way multichannel voice, telephoto and telegraphs communications in our country’s territory. At the moment of its deployment, the system was second to none in the world.
With the launch of the Molniya-1 satellite our country pioneered the use of highly elliptical orbits. This type of orbits is suitable for satellites intended for servicing territories in north latitudes.
Molniya-1 traces its roots to Sergey Korolev’s OKB-1 which was originally tasked with designing this series of satellites. Later the Molniya-1 project at the stage of its flight tests was handed over to OKB-10 (now ISS-Reshetnev Company). OKB-10 team led by Mikhail Reshetnev refined the satellite and began its batch production. In the following years the Reshetnev Company developed several follow-on versions of Molniya-1.
Molniya-1 satellites had been launched till 1983. A total of 89 satellites had been successfully placed into orbit.