Launch of Russian communications satellite postponed

MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - The launch of a Proton carrier rocket with an Express AM-3 telecommunications satellite has been postponed for a day, from June 23 to June 24, for technical reasons.

"It is a reserve date. The launch has been scheduled for 11.41 p.m. (Moscow time)," an official from the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos) told RIA Novosti.

"The Express AM-3 telecommunications satellite is designed for digital-quality broadcasting, telephony, transmitting video images, Internet access, and the creation of communications networks using VSAT technology," Alexander Bobrenev, the official spokesman for the Khrunichev Space Center, told RIA Novosti.

He said that it was the fifth Russian Express-AM series satellite. It was built in Krasnoyarsk (Siberia) at the Mikhail Reshetnev Research and Production Association of Applied Mechanics. France's Alcatel, which specializes in telecommunications, made the electronics for the satellite. The Proton was manufactured by the Khrunichev Center on a Kosmicheskaya Svyaz (Space Communications) order.

Russia's Federal Space Program envisions launches of at least 15 new communications satellites between 2006 and 2015. The Express-AM satellites will replace the Gorizont and Ekran-M series satellites, which have come to the end of their service lives.

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