Russia launches navigation satellites

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Russia on Friday successfully launched three satellites for its global navigation system Glonass on a Proton-M rocket from its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian space agency said.

The launch took place at 4:51 pm Moscow time (1251 GMT) and the satellites, part of a system aimed at rivalling the US GPS, were due to go into their fixed orbits later in the evening.

Successful deployment of the satellites is vital for Russia after three Glonass satellites were lost in December 2010 when they plunged into the ocean after a problem with the rocket.

There have been questions over the reliability of the Russian space programme after a Progress supply ship bound for the International Space Station plunged back into Siberia in August after a technical failure.

© 2011 AFP

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