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    Russia orbits Cosmos-series military satellite

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    A Russian Molniya-M carrier rocket has successfully put into orbit a Cosmos-series military satellite to increase its orbital reconnaissance grouping, a Space Forces spokesman said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Molniya-M carrier rocket has successfully put into orbit a Cosmos-series military satellite to increase its orbital reconnaissance grouping, a Space Forces spokesman said on Tuesday.

    Russia's Space Forces launched the Cosmos-2446 satellite from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia at 08:00 Moscow time (05:00 GMT).

    "The satellite was successfully put into a designated orbit at 09:45 Moscow time [06:45 GMT] according to standard procedures," Lt. Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.

    Russia reportedly operates a network of about 60-70 military reconnaissance satellites. Some experts believe the new satellite could be part of Russia's Oko (Eye) orbital missile early warning network.

    The most recent launch of a Molniya-M rocket with a Cosmos-series satellite on board was conducted by Russia's Space Forces in October 2007.

    The four-stage medium-class Molniya-M, converted from the R-7 Semyorka ICBM, has a lift-off weight of 305 metric tons and is used for launching spacecraft of up to two metric tons into high-elliptical orbits.

    Since 1970 Russia has launched over 220 Molniya-M carrier rockets from the Plesetsk space center.

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