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I just saw this article on a family of German recon sats https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAR-Lupe

They were all launched from Russia! Why? Why not an Ariane launch from French Guiana?

I can understand America buying Russian engines to launch stuff and keep the engines’ designers from working out of Russia, but actually launching your spy sats on Russian rockets just seems like a step too far.

Edit: it seems like you’re asking for sabotage if a strategic enemy is launching your spy sat.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you better articulate the scenario you're imagining that would make it a "step too far"? Do you really think Russia needs to learn about SAR from "Germany's first reconnaissance satellite system"? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 27 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh see edit. Just because it’s Germany’s first sat doesn’t mean it’s completely inferior to Russia’s spy sats. There could be a unique set of hardware that the Russians could copy. (Nothing against Russian tech, I’m in awe of their US sub sniffing sensors) $\endgroup$ – techSultan Jul 27 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ your edit is well-taken, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 27 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh likewise for encouraging me to post a bit deeper even on mobile :) $\endgroup$ – techSultan Jul 27 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ A politics rather than space observation would be that if the aim was regional stability by being able to say 'we see you' having your most likely adversary get a good look at the payload is possibly a feature not a bug. And possibly more important was not letting the US get a good look/chance to tamper, since a primary mission would be to cross check US/NATO provided intelligence. $\endgroup$ – GremlinWranger Jul 27 at 23:46
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Arianne is good at putting 9 tonne satellites into Geosynchronous orbit or 20 tonnes into LEO. Putting one or two half tonne satellites into 500km orbits would be ridiculously wasteful, and consequentially expensive.

At ArianneSpace, neither the Vega or Soyuz were in service at the time.

Given that payload owners tend to have unrestricted access to the payload during processing, there's little opportunity for sabotage, short of causing the launcher to fail, which isn't going to do you any favours trying to sell launch services which are a useful source of revenue for Russia.

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  • $\begingroup$ I presume you mean Soyuz wasn't in service as an ESA launcher. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 27 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ yeah, I was talking about what is now ArianneSpace. I know it needs some clarification, just can't think of one that isn't too disruptive $\endgroup$ – JCRM Jul 27 at 17:27

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