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    Russia launches military satellite into orbit

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    A Molnia-M carrier rocket has been launched from a site in northern Russia to bring a military satellite into orbit, a Space Forces spokesman said Friday.

    MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - A Molnia-M carrier rocket has been launched from a site in northern Russia to bring a military satellite into orbit, a Space Forces spokesman said Friday.

    The launch was conducted from the Plesetsk space center at 8.20 a.m. Moscow time (4.20 a.m. GMT) and the rocket is expected to deliver a Cosmos satellite into its designated orbit at 9.16 a.m. Moscow time (5.16 a.m. GMT).

    "The launch was conducted in the interests of the Defense Ministry by units of the Space Forces," the spokesman said, adding that the new spacecraft would strengthen Russia's orbital group of military satellites.

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in March that the Russian orbital group consisted of 96 satellites, of which 59 are used for military purposes.

    The four-stage medium-range Molnia-M, which has a lift-off weight of 305 metric tons, is believed to be one of the most reliable in the world and is used for launching spacecraft of up to two metric tons into high-elliptical orbits.

    Russia has launched 220 Molnia-M carrier rockets from the Plesetsk space center since 1970.

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