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Russia’s Soyuz-ST puts European weather satellite Metop-C into orbit

The launch took place at 03:48 Moscow time on Wednesday from the Guiana Space Centre

PARIS, November 7. /TASS/. Russia’s Soyuz-ST carrier rocket has put a European meteorological satellite, Metop-C, into the designated orbit on Wednesday.

The launch took place at 03:48 Moscow time on Wednesday from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana and was broadcast live by Arianespace on its website.

It was the second Soyuz-ST launch this year, following the Soyuz-ST-B launch on March 6 to orbit four satellites for Luxembourg-based satellite services provider SES.

An hour after the blastoff, the satellite successfully separated from the Fregat-MT booster. The satellite has already started transmitting signal to the headquarters of EUMETSAT (European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) in Darmstadt.

Metop-C is the third and last satellite in the Metop family, designed to provide data for high-accuracy weather forecasts. The first satellite of the Metop family (Metop-A) has been operating in the orbit since 2006, the second (Metop-B) - since 2012. Both satellites were orbited by Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz-ST carrier rocket was designed by a Progress design bureau in the Volga area city of Samara, for launches from the Guiana Space Centre as part of the joint Russian-European launch project, Soyuz-Kourou. The rocket is a modification of the Soyuz-2 rocket, adapted for security and climate conditions and requirements of the Guiana Space Centre. It comes in two modifications - Soyuz-ST-A and Soyuz-ST-B. Both are still in service.

A contract for the delivery of first Soyuz-ST carrier rockets was signed in 2005. At least 50 rockets were planned to be launched from the Kourou space center over 15 years. The first launch of a Soyuz carrier rocket from the Kourou spaceport took place in 2011.

Since 2011, a total of 19 Soyuz-ST launches took place from the Guiana Space Centre and only one of them was close to failure. In 2014, two European navigational satellites Galileo FOC could not be put into the designated orbit due to a malfunction in the Fregat-MT booster, but managed to reach the intended orbital position later after switching on their own engines.