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Russia to launch first carrier rocket from Kourou on December 17

RIA Novosti

12:1114/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - The first launch of a Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana has been scheduled for December 17, Russia's top space official said on Friday.

Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos and French satellite launch firm Arianespace signed a contract in 2008 to launch 10 Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from Kourou. The first launch will take the Hylas-1 commercial satellite into orbit.

"The current official date is December 17," Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov said on Russian television following his recent visit to the Kourou space center.

Parts of two Soyuz-ST rockets, modernized versions of the Soyuz-2 rocket developed specifically for launches from the Kourou space center, were delivered to French Guiana last year.

The Kourou launch site is intended mainly for the launch of geostationary satellites. Its proximity to the Equator will enable the Soyuz-ST to put into orbit heavier satellites than those launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in northern Russia.

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