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Russian Proton-M rocket to launch European satellite in November

RIA Novosti

02/11/2007 19:21 (Adds last four paras)

MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Proton-M carrier rocket has been scheduled to put a European telecommunications satellite into orbit on November 18, Russia's space agency (Roskosmos) said Friday.

SIRIUS 4 is a multi-mission Ku/Ka-band satellite operated by SES SIRIUS AB, a leading European provider of telecommunication services. It consists of 54 active transponders covering Europe and Africa.

Roskosmos said launch preparation work has started at the Baikonur space center by International Launch Services (ILS), a U.S.-Russian joint venture with exclusive rights for worldwide commercial sales and mission management of satellite launches on Russia's Proton carrier rockets.

"The preparation for the launch of the SIRIUS-4 satellite at the Baikonur space center is going strictly according to schedule," a Roskosmos spokesperson said.

The partners in the joint venture are Space Transport Inc., a privately-owned corporation based in the British Virgin Islands, the Khrunichev center, and Moscow's RSC Energia.

The Proton rocket launches both commercial ILS missions and Russian government payloads from the Baikonur space center, which is operated by Roskosmos under lease from Kazakhstan.

On October 24, Kazakhstan lifted a ban on Proton launches from the Baikonur space center, which was imposed following a September 6 crash of a Proton-M rocket for which Astana is seeking 1.5 billion rubles ($60 million) in compensation.

The Novosti Kosmonavtiki (Space news) Web site reported that five space launches will be carried out from Baikonur in November-December 2007.

After the November 18 Proton-M and SIRIUS 4 launch, a Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with Canada's RADARSAT-2 will lift off December 8, a Soyuz-U rocket with a Progress M-62 resupply ship December 23, and a Proton-K with three Glonass-M satellites December 25.

Another launch of a Proton launch vehicle with a Globus spacecraft in December will be made on behalf of the Russian Defense Ministry.

A total of 15 space launches have been made from Baikonur since early 2007, including 8 successful launches of Soyuz carrier rockets and four Proton liftoffs (one emergency), maintaining Baikonur as the leading space center in terms of the number of launches in 2007.

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