Russia launches US satellites on third attempt

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A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully carried six US Globalstar satellites into orbit on Wednesday after postponing the launch twice earlier this week, Russia's space agency said.

The rocket blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome it leases from neighbouring Kazakhstan at 0227 GMT, Roskosmos said in a statement.

The launch of the Globalstar-2 satellites for the eponymous US-based company, a provider of mobile satellite voice and data services, had been initially scheduled for Monday.

It was then postponed twice for technical reasons, the space agency said.

Russia in April fired the head of its space agency after a series of humiliating mishaps cast a shadow over its space programme.

In December, the country suffered one of its most embarrassing space failures in recent times when three navigation satellites for the new Glonass system, Russia's answer to GPS, crashed into the ocean off Hawaii instead of reaching orbit.

© 2011 AFP

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