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Russia makes first space launch of 2009

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Russia has successfully launched its first carrier rocket of 2009, putting a Coronas-Photon research satellite into orbit, a Mission Control spokesman said Friday.
MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has successfully launched its first carrier rocket of 2009, putting a Coronas-Photon research satellite into orbit, a Mission Control spokesman said Friday.

The launch of the Cyclone-3 rocket from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia had been scheduled for Thursday, but was delayed by a day for technical reasons.

The Coronas-Photon satellite, designed to study solar processes, is the third of three to study the Sun from near-Earth orbit under Russia's Coronas program. Coronas-I and Coronas-F were launched in 1994 and 2001, respectively.

It will investigate the processes of free energy accumulation in the sun's atmosphere, accelerated particle phenomena and solar flares, and the correlation between solar activity and magnetic storms on Earth.

Russia's next launch will be the space cargo ship Progress M-66, which will take supplies to the International Space Station on February 10, followed on February 11 by a Proton-M rocket with two new Russian Express-series communications satellites. Both launches will be from Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

The Russian space agency is planning to make a record 39 space launches this year from the Baikonur and Plesetsk space centers.