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    Russia launches carrier rocket with communications satellite

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    A carrier rocket with a communications satellite was launched from a site in northern Russia, the press office of the Russian Space Forces said Sunday.

    MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - A carrier rocket with a communications satellite was launched from a site in northern Russia, the press office of the Russian Space Forces said Sunday.

    "Today at 11:34 a.m. Moscow time (8:34 a.m. GMT), a Soyuz-2 booster with a Meridian spacecraft was successfully launched from launch pad No. 4 at site No. 43 of the Plesetsk state testing space center by crews of the Space Forces," the press office said.

    The carrier rocket is expected to deliver the satellite into orbit at 6:35 p.m. Moscow time (3:35 p.m. GMT), the press office said.

    The launch was planned for Friday but was postponed until Saturday and then rescheduled for Sunday due to software failure, the press office said.

    The Meridian satellite is designed to provide communication between vessels and airplanes involved in ice surveillance in the North Sea area, 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.

    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.

    Along with carrying Russian satellites, it is also used for commercial space launches from the Kourou launch pad in French Guiana, under a deal with the European Space Agency.

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