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Russian Soyuz-2 rocket launch further delayed by computer breakdown

RIA Novosti

23/12/2006 18:05 MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Space Forces said a Soyuz-2 booster rocket's launch rescheduled for Saturday will again have to be postponed owing to technical problems.

The rocket, with a Meridian reconnaissance satellite on board, was due to take off from the Plesetsk space center, in northern Russia, Friday, but its launch was postponed by 24 hours after its computer system broke down.

"Software failure is delaying the launch," Space Forces spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov said. "A task force has now been established to find out what caused the failure and draw up an action plan."

He said a new date for the launch will be set later in the day.

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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