SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Molniya 1 communications satellite. Diagram of a Molniya-1 military communications satellite in its orbital configuration. Molniya-1 was the first attempt by the Soviet Union to provide satellite-based communications for its armed forces. The first two test flights in 1964 were failures, but the third flight in October 1965 was a success. The Molniya satellites were launched into a highly-elliptical orbit which allowed them more time over the north polar regions than a sun-synchronous orbit, and better coverage than a geostationary orbit. Various satellites of the Molniya-1 type were launched, achieving operational status in 1968.
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