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MOSCOW, March 19. /TASS/. A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying the Ekspress-AM7 communications satellite has lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a director of communications at the Khrunichev state research and production space centre said on Thursday.
"The lift-off has taken place. The separation of the upper stage as part of the Briz-M booster and the Ekspress-AM7 spacecraft from the third stage of the Proton-M carrier rocket is expected in around 10 minutes," Alexander Shmygov said.
The spacecraft will separate from the upper stage at 10:18 a.m. Moscow time (0718 GMT). It will take the spacecraft a total of 9 hours and 13 minutes - from the lift-off to separation - to reach its final orbit.
Ekspress-AM7 is manufactured by European company Airbus DS under a contract with the Russian satellite communications company. The satellite is due to provide digital television and radio broadcasting, broadband access and multimedia, data transmission, telephone and mobile communications.