Russia launches military satellite

The military satellite was launched atop a Molniya-M booster rocket that blasted off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, Space Forces spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin said.

There were no problems with the launch, but the rocket was to put the satellite in orbit outside the zone where it could be monitored by Russian tracking facilities, forcing officials to wait for it to move within range to determine the success of the mission, Zolotukhin said.

The Space Forces commander, Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, has said that the military does not have enough reconnaissance satellites and that a program to replace "old generation" military satellites with new satellites that will function for 7-10 years should be completed over the next two years or so, the agency reported. Russia's last military satellite launch was in May.

On Thursday, authorities indefinitely postponed the launch of a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket that was to have put a European Space Agency weather satellite, MetOp-A, in orbit. Preliminary investigations showed that a problem arose in the rocket's ground support system at the launch facility in Kazakhstan, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites said in a statement posted on its Web site, according to the AP.

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