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Russia to launch new Earth probe satellite

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MOSCOW, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - The August launch of the Monitor-E satellite will usher in Russia's remote Earth probing program, head of the Khrunichev Space Center Alexander Medvedev said Thursday.

"The spacecraft only weighs 600kg," Medvedev said. "When folded, it resembles a cube a meter in diameter. It was built to tackle unprecedented tasks. Russia has never had a space vehicle with such capabilities. Unconventional solutions and new technology were used to design and build the vehicle."

The Monitor-E will be the first in a series of small-class, remote Earth probing systems. Thanks to its smart onboard systems the tiny vehicle is compared to heavy satellites in terms of specifications and capabilities.

Almost all the auxiliary and target components are new developments from the Russian space industry. The Defense Ministry will also use data from the Monitor-E.

However, Medvedev said no contracts for Monitor-E's services had been signed so far.

"Everybody is waiting to see whether the project will be a success, and how the vehicle's systems will work. But we have at least 30 potential customers already who will materialize if the spacecraft works well in orbit," Medvedev said.

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