MOSCOW, November 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia's Space Forces launched on Wednesday a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with a dual-purpose Meridian-series telecoms satellite on board, spokesman Col. Alexey Zolotukhin said.
The Soyuz blasted off from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia at 3:42 p.m. Moscow time (11:42 GMT).
The satellite was put into a designated orbit at around 06.00 p.m Moscow time (15:00 GMT). Russian operators "have established a reliable communications and data link with the spacecraft," the spokesman said.
Meridian-series communication satellites are used for both civilian and military purposes. They are designed to provide communication between vessels, airplanes and coastal stations on the ground, as well as to expand a network of satellite communications in the northern regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East. These satellites are designed to replace the older Molniya-series.
Russia lost one of Meridian satellites late last year when it fell to earth just minutes after take-off on board a Soyuz launch vehicle, marking another blow for Russia’s troubled space industry, which has experienced a number of launch mishaps in the past two years.
The Soyuz-2 is an upgraded version of the Soyuz rocket, which has been a workhorse of Russia's manned and unmanned space programs since the 1960s.