MOSCOW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia launched on Thursday a light-class Rokot carrier rocket with three telecoms satellites from its northern Plesetsk space center, the Defense Ministry said.
"The launch of the Rokot carrier rocket with three Gonets-M communications satellites was carried out successfully at 04.43 p.m. Moscow time [12:43 GMT] from the Plesetsk space center," spokesman for Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces, Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.
The separation of the satellites from the rocket’s Briz-KM booster is expected at 06.28 p.m. Moscow time (14:28 GMT) on Thursday, the spokesman said.
The Gonets-M satellites will be part of Russia’s low-orbit grouping of telecoms satellites designed to provide communications services for remote areas of the country.
The Rokot launch vehicle, developed by the state-run Khrunichev Center, is a modification of the RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) two-stage ballistic missile that is being decommissioned from Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces.
The rocket is designed to put spacecraft weighing less than two tons into near-earth orbits.
The latest launch of the carrier rocket with a block of military satellites was successfully carried out late May.
The first launch of the rocket from the Plesetsk space center took place May 16, 2000. Since then, 21 Rokot carrier rockets have been launched from the space center.