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Russian carrier rocket to be launched from French Guiana

June 25, 2013, 2:37 UTC+3

Soyuz-ST rocket to take 2,800 kg weight to the orbit

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PARIS, June 25 (Itar-Tass) - A Russian carrier rocket in the Soyuz-ST family is due to be launched from a space center in French Guiana at 19:54 GMT Tuesday. It is supposed to bring into orbit four European telecommunications satellites of the O3b Networks operator.

The takeoff was to be held June 23 initially but was postponed due to bad weather. The overall weight of the four satellites created by the company Thales Alenia Space stands at 2,800 kg.

The Fegate booster block will take them into an orbit with an elevation of around 8,000 km above the surface of the Earth and the satellites will ensure telecommunications and access to the Internet for the customers in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and the Middle East.

The first two satellites will separate from the carrier rocket two hours after liftoff and the other two satellites will follow them 22 minutes later.

Another eight satellites of the O3b grouping will be launched before the end of 2014. Once put on stream, they will help provide the presidents of the poorest countries of the world with access to the Internet.

Utilization of lighter satellites weighing up to 650 kg compared with the traditional geostationary satellites, which weigh from 4,000 to 6,000 kg, and their placement into a lower orbit /8,000 km versus 35,800 km/ is destined to make communications less expensive.

The upcoming launch of the Soyuz carrier rocket will be the fifth one at the Kourou space center. Location of the facility slightly more than 500 km to the north of the equator enables the launching powers to put into orbit bigger payloads than the ones launched from the Russian space centers at Baikonur and Plesetsk.

The launches are effectuated in line with a Russian-French intergovernmental agreement signed in 2003. A new satellite compound has been built at the space center for implementation of the project.

At the beginning of the construction works, a stone from Basikonur’s so-called Gagarin launching pad was delivered to Kourou.

Unlike at the Russian space centers where the carrier rockets are assembled in a horizontal position, the Soyuz launching pad has a technological capability for assembling the launching pads in a vertical position. This meets the standards and requirements of the Western aerospace industry.

The first Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Kourou in 2011.

The European Space Agency dozen not have medium capacity launching vehicles of its own and the Russian rockets enable it to offer a full range of services in the field of orbital payloads delivery.

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