Russia loses contact with satellite after launch: reports

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Russia has lost contact with a major new telecommunications satellite hours after its launch into orbit, reports said on Thursday.

The Express-AM4 satellite was launched in the early hours of Thursday morning from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and was due to provide digital television, telephone and Internet services across Russia.

"The radio systems are not detecting the satellite in its fixed orbit. There are no signals from the satellite," a source in the space industry told the Interfax news agency.

A loss of the satellite would be a major blow for Russia after the embarrassment caused in December when three navigation satellites crashed into the ocean off Hawaii instead of reaching orbit.

© 2011 AFP

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