Russia launches British comms satellite into space
Russia on Sunday carried out its first space launch of the year, using its commercial Proton rocket to send a British satellite into orbit.
The launch went ahead as planned just after 1230GMT from the Russia-owned Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a live broadcast shown by Russia's Roscosmos space agency showed. It is expected to reach orbit at 0402GMT Monday.
The communications satellite Inmarsat-5 F2 is the second in a $1.6-billion fleet called Global Xpress designed to provide broadband communications on land, at sea and in the air.
The I-F F2 satellite will cover the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, according to Inmarsat.
The Proton-M rocket has launched numerous Western and Asian commercial satellites, but it has suffered several setbacks in recent years.
In 2013, a rocket carrying cargo for the International Space Station exploded in mid-air right after takeoff.
A year earlier, a smooth launch ended in failure after the rocket missed the correct orbit, losing two satellites in the process.
Sunday's launch -- the 402nd launch of a Proton rocket -- started smoothly, with the first, second and third stages of separation taking place on time as the 6.7-tonne satellite headed on its course.
Russia wants to eventually replace the Proton workhorse with the newer Angara rocket, which completed a successful maiden flight last year.
© 2015 AFP