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Russia launches military satellite: agencies

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Dec 9, 2007
Russia successfully launched a military satellite on Sunday from the Baikonur cosmodrome, part of a drive to modernise the armed forces' space infrastructure, Russian news agencies reported.

The Kosmos satellite was launched aboard a Proton-M rocket and was successfully released into the correct orbit, ITAR-TASS quoted a spokesman for the military's space division, Alexei Zolotukhin, as saying.

"We have established stable communications with the satellite. The Kosmos 2434 satellite is functioning normally," he said.

Russia's military has just over 60 orbiting satellites, which "encompass all kinds of military functions from communications to reconnaissance," ITAR-TASS quoted the head of the space division, General Vladimir Popovkin, as saying earlier.

The latest generation of military satellites have a minimum lifespan of between seven and 15 years depending on their orbit, he said.

In September a Proton-M rocket crashed upon launching from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan. This prompted a dispute over environmental compensation between Russia and the Kazakh authorities, which rent the iconic cosmodrome to Moscow.

Designed for military and civilian use, including for firing nuclear warheads, the Proton rocket is powered by a hypergolic fuel that allows instantaneous launching and is also highly toxic, just a few drops being deadly to humans.

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