Light-class rocket carrier launched

A Rokot light-class carrier rocket blasted off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome on Thursday, with two US Iridium communications satellites atop. The launch was effected by crews of Russia's space forces.

Both spacecraft, after they jettison the boost section, will enter circular near-polar orbits with a maximum distance from the Earth of about 655-690 kilometres.

The satellites are designed to provide subscribers with telephone, facsimile and paging services.

As was noted in the press-service of the forces, this launch was the second one this year carried out by space troops together with RN Rokot as part of a commercial programme of launches. While making the blasts, Russian specialists also conduct further tests of this rocket, made on the basis of the converted RS-18 missile /Stiletto by West European classification/. Specifically in this case, the launching was done from a ground-based transport container.

"It is important that the second launch of this test carrier rocket in three months was successful. A programme for its exploitation appears to be quite feasible," noted Major-General Oleg Gromov, deputy commander of space forces. "Another reason why this is important is that the other day Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed a government decision on the space forces providing launch services. Under it Rokot carrier rockets will launch from Plesetsk Dialog-3 space communication vehicles and Monitor-3 satellites for Earth remote-sensing. These are going to lift this year."

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