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Cosmos 206



Cosmos 206 was the sixth announced Russian meteorological satellite and the fourth interim operational weather satellite in the experimental 'Meteor' system. It was also the fourth launch of a semi-operational weather satellite from the Plesetsk site into a near-polar, near-circular orbit. Unlike U.S. weather satellites, however, the orbit was prograde (not sun-synchronous) because, as a result of geographic limitations, a retrograde orbit was not possible. Cosmos 206 was orbited to test, in a semi-operational mode, meteorological instruments designed for obtaining images of cloud cover, snow cover, and ice fields on the day and night sides of the earth and for measuring fluxes of outgoing radiation reflected and radiated by the earth-atmosphere system. This instrumentation consisted of (1) two vidicon cameras for daytime cloudcover pictures, (2) a high-resolution scanning IR radiometer for nighttime and daytime imaging of the earth and clouds, and (3) an array of narrow- and wide-angle radiometers covering the 0.3- to 3, 8- to 12-, and 3- to 30-micron channels for measuring the intensity of radiation reflected from the clouds and oceans, the surface temperatures of the earth and cloud tops, and the total flux of thermal energy from the earth-atmosphere system into space, respectively. The satellite was in the form of a large cylindrical capsule, 5 m long and 1.5 m in diameter. Two large solar cell panels of four segments each were deployed from opposite sides of the cylinder after satellite separation from the launch vehicle. The solar panels were rotated to constantly face the sun during satellite daytime by means of a sun sensor-controlled drive mechanism fitted in the top end of the center body. The meteorological instruments, a magnetometer, 465-MHz radio antennas, and orbital control devices were housed in a complex, smaller, hermetically sealed cylinder located on the earthward-facing end of the cylindrical satellite body. The satellite was triaxially stabilized by a series of inertial flywheels, driven by electric motors, whose kinetic energy was dampened by torques produced by electromagnets interacting with the earth's magnetic field. Cosmos 206 was oriented by earth sensors with one of its axes directed earthward along the local vertical, a second oriented along the orbital velocity vector, and a third oriented perpendicular to the orbital plane. This orientation ensured that the optical axes of the instruments were constantly directed earthward. When two of the 'Meteor' system satellites were in operation at the same time in near-polar orbits and with suitable differences in the longitudes of the ascending nodes, data could be received from one-half the earth's surface in a 24-hr period. Cosmos 206 had a brief useful lifetime. It is believed to have ceased operations on May 6, 1968, as indicated by the termination of data transmissions to the United States via the 'cold line' with Moscow.

Alternate Names

  • 03150
  • Cosmos206
  • 1968-019A

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1968-03-14
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Launch Site: Plesetsk, U.S.S.R
Mass: 4730 kg

Funding Agency

  • Soviet Academy of Sciences U.S.S.R


  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



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