Russia launches military satellite after delay

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Russia on Wednesday successfully launched a military satellite after a three-week delay caused by the failure of one its workhorse Proton-M rockets, the Roskosmos space agency said.

The satellite, which was launched "in the interests of the ministry of defence," reached orbit nine minutes after takeoff from the Baikonur space centre that Russia leases from Kazakhstan, Roskosmos said in a statement.

It was due to separate from its Briz-M upper stage booster -- a delicate operation that has failed on past occasions -- at 0748 GMT, the agency said.

Roskosmos was forced to temporarily ground all Proton-M rockets that come equipped with the Briz-M upper stages after losing an advanced telecommunications satellite on August 18.

Six days later, a Progress cargo vessel flying to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz carrier rocket crashed back to Earth less than six minutes after launch.

Some of the Soyuz missions have since also been grounded, forcing a delay of the next manned flight to the space station until November 14.

The military satellite was original scheduled to take off on August 31, the RBC news agency reported.

© 2011 AFP

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