Russia launches 11 space satellites ‘without glitch’

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MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Thursday successfully launched 11 satellites from its Vostochny cosmodrome, in the third rocket liftoff from the new spaceport, the space agency said.

The country’s first orbital launch of 2018 came after a similar liftoff from the cosmodrome in eastern Russia ended in embarrassment, with officials losing contact with a weather satellite last November.

Lifting off as scheduled early Thursday, the Soyuz rocket carried two Russian Earth monitoring satellites as its primary payload and nine US and German piggyback satellites.

During its mission the Fregat upper-stage rocket performed a complex sequence, forming several orbits for the delivery of the satellites, the Roscosmos space agency said.

“In accordance with the flight programme, the Fregat uppper-stage placed into orbit space vehicles of main and secondary payloads,” the space agency said in a statement.

Both the Soyuz rocket and the upper stage “performed without a glitch,” the statement added.

The second liftoff from the Vostochny cosmodrome ended in failure last November when Russian officials lost contact with a weather satellite hours after its launch.

The glitch was a fresh embarrassment for the country’s once-proud space industry which has suffered a series of setbacks over recent years.

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