Russia successfully launches Soyuz rocket with military satellite

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has successfully launched an unmanned Soyuz rocket, the first such liftoff since an aborted launch of a similar rocket earlier this month.

The Russian Defense Ministry on October 25 said that “a Soyuz-2.1B rocket was successfully launched carrying a satellite for the Russian military” from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the northwest of the country.

The ministry said the satellite reached its orbit as scheduled.

“This is the first launch of a rocket from the Soyuz family since the October 11 accident,” Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s space agency chief, wrote on Twitter.

In the aborted mission, a space capsule carrying a two-man Russian-American crew malfunctioned after liftoff and landed safely in Kazakhstan.

Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague were aboard the capsule bound for the International Space Station (ISS) and were unhurt in the incident.

Russia’s space agency said it had suspended all Soyuz launches pending an investigation, but it said it still hoped to send a crew to the space station in December.

Media reports say investigators have preliminarily linked the failure to an element jettisoning rocket side boosters from the main stage, with indications they were damaged during final assembly at the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Space officials said they planned to conduct at least two other unmanned Soyuz launches before sending a crew to the space station.

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