Deep Space Site in Crimea on Fire After Missile Attacks

24th Jun 2024
Deep Space Site in Crimea on Fire After Missile Attacks

A deep space tracking and communications site occupied by the Russian Federation since 2014 and recently upgraded has been hit by several missiles on the night of 23rd-24th June. The site, known by its Cold War nomenclature of NIP-16, is at Vitino, near Yevpatoria and about 70km northwest of Sevastopol. The Crimea site had been in operation since 1962, and had supported missions for the Soviet, Ukrainian, and Russian space programs.

Photos from posters on x.com show the site being on fire after being hit by several ATACM missiles launched by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. No damage assessments have been published yet. However, along with the historic antennas, including its 70m dish, imagery shows new items in place including at least one stand-alone dish and structures near the ageing 8x16m dish array.

Military value

Ukraine has made a point of destroying Russian radar installations in Crimea and elsewhere as part of its effort at halting the support infrastructure behind Russia’s invasion force. Previous actions have damaged over-the-horizon radar sites in Russia through the use of domestically manufactured missiles as well as the radars for surface-to-air missile launchers. Russia’s early warning aircraft have been downed by Ukraine’s hardware.
While the NIP-16 site is not primarily known for its direct role in the Russian invasion, it is a major telemetry ground station for Russian military satellites, and the successful attack will certainly degrade Russian space borne military operations supporting the war.

The Effect on the Space Community

The space community as a whole is unlikely to notice any difference with the NIP-16 site no longer operating. Russia has not been a part of the global satellite operations and telemetry scene, especially since relations turned cold with the onset of sanctions against Russia and Roscosmos appropriating 36 OneWeb satellites worth a total of £199m in 2022. Furthermore, ISS operations over Russia and involving its Russian module are mostly handled through NIP-12 outside of Moscow.

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