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    RUSSIAN PROTON-M BOOSTER TO ORBIT EUROPEAN SATCOM W-3A

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 15 (RIA NOVOSTI) - The first commercial launch in 2004 of the Russian carrier rocket Proton-M with the latest European communications satellite W-3A is scheduled for March 16, 02:06 a.m. Moscow time, from the Baikonur space center, Alexander Bobrenev, official spokesman for the Khrunuchev Center, said.

    In his words, the Khrunichev Center is the developer and manufacturer of Proton-M, as well as the attached acceleration unit Briz-M.

    The updated Proton-M carrier rocket has improved the energy-mass, service and ecological performances. It has a new digital control system and its exhausted first stages can fall on a smaller area.

    In addition, the environmental-safety indicators of the new Russian carrier - the cyclogram of Proton-M's first stage operation - ensure full utilization of highly toxic heptyl from the tanks.

    The use of a larger nose cone of the Proton-M increases more than twice the space for a payload, making it possible to make use of more promising acceleration units in the new booster.

    The W-3A spacecraft of the latest generation, built by the Astrium company, is designed to ensure communications, direct telecast and Internet access for private users. The Eutelsat Co. requested the launch. It owns the satellite.

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