Russia launched on Thursday a Zenit-3SB rocket carrying a meteorological satellite from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, said.
"The launch was carried out on schedule [at 3:29 pm Moscow time (12:29 GMT)]," a spokesman said. "The separation of the satellite from the Fregat-SB booster is expected at 12:28 am Moscow time on January 21."
The launch was originally scheduled for December 25, 2010, but was delayed to ensure the readiness of the new Fregat-SB booster.
Elektro-L 1 is the first of two new Russian geostationary weather satellites designed to provide meteorologists with a wide variety of data, including weather analysis and forecasting on a global and regional scale. It also monitors changes in the climate.
The satellite should be able to image the entire visible hemisphere of Earth at a resolution of 1 km per pixel (visible light band) and 4 km (IR band), every 30 minutes.
The weight of the spacecraft in operational mode is about 1,500 kg. Its service lifetime is about 10 years.
The Russian government previously said it would restore the Soviet network of weather satellites, which could help monitor weather and climate conditions across the country's 11 time zones.
MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti)