Saturday, 20 March 2010

Russia launches Proton-M rocket with U.S. telecoms satellite

A Proton-M carrier rocket with the U.S. telecommunications satellite Echostar 14 was launched on Saturday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos said.

"The launch was carried out without incidents, the spacecraft is expected to be orbited on Sunday at 6:36 Moscow time [03:36 GMT]," a Roscosmos spokesman said.

A contract to launch the Echostar 14 has been concluded between the Russian-U.S. joint venture International Launch Services (ILS) and the U.S. telecommunications company Echostar.

Baikonur, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, is the main launch facility for the current generation of Russian rockets and was leased by Russia from Kazakhstan under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia pays an estimated annual fee of $115 million for the use of the space center, which has the world's busiest launch schedule at the moment.

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