The center was built in the Altai village “Savushka” due to the fact that the region has the best astroclimatic characteristics in all of Russia. This location has more sunny days and clear nights than anywhere else in the country, which is the most crucial condition for laser equipment.
The first telescope, which is mounted at the center, has been operating successfully for several years. With its aid, engineers can determine the coordinates of cosmic objects up to 40,000 km away from earth. All information is downloaded to the control room, currently shown on-screen is the satellite “Benas”. The Russian navigation system is one of the main objects of observation. Information gathered here helps improve the accuracy of “GLONASS”. At night, the temperature is monitored by up to 50 satellites. The laser beam cutting through the darkness can be clearly seen from a distance. Its source: a telescope equipped with a unique optical system. Special matrices are installed which regulate the intensity of the light, and allows the telescope to obtain images of spacecraft at high resolution.
“Based on the surface of the earth, we see all cosmic objects through the thickness of the atmosphere. Our atmosphere, due to the processes that take place within it, such as wind, is not homogeneous. Inside the telescope, there is a flexible mirror that changes its curvature to compensate for the changes within the atmosphere. In simple words, it was very difficult to do,” stated Nikolay Gorbushin, the chief of the Detached Center of Measurements for the Aerospace Defense Department. The effectiveness of the Altai laser center will dramatically increase after the second telescope is mounted. The new telescope will focus primarily on low orbit, which is where most of the satellites are concentrated. The telescope will feature the latest optics which will allow dispatchers to obtain an image of even the smallest details of a spacecraft, for example, to check to make sure all systems are working. One of the objectives of the Altai center is to provide information about any launch failures, before pieces of the satellite or its carrier crash to earth. The station will begin tracking space objects at full power by the year 2013. Its only analogue in the world is an American center located in Hawaii.