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    Russia to have five weather satellites by 2013

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    MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will have five weather satellites in orbit by 2013, with the first to be launched later this year, the director of the hydrometeorological center said on Friday.

    "In accordance with Roscosmos' [Federal Space Agency's] program, there will be five domestic weather satellites by 2013," Roman Vilfand said, adding that the second satellite would be launched in the first half of next year.

    He added that up to now Russia's meteorological service has had to rely on U.S., Japanese and Chinese satellites for weather forecasts.

    The satellite manufacturer said Russia's first meteorological satellite, Meteor-M1, would be launched by the end of 2008.

    The Russian state research and development company VNIIEM said its specialists had assembled the satellite and started "the final stage of complex tests."

    The 2.7 ton Meteor-M1 will be put into an 830 km (515 mile) orbit by a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle.

    Its service life will be five to seven years.

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