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Russia launches 3 foreign satellites into orbit

RIA Novosti

20:04 15/06/2010

MOSCOW, June 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) launched on Tuesday a converted Russian intercontinental ballistic missile carrying three foreign satellites from a missile site in the Urals region, a SMF spokesman said.

The spokesman said an RS-20B missile delivered the French satellite Picard, the Swedish satellite Prisma and the Ukrainian satellite BPA-1 into low Earth orbit.

This is the 15th launch of an international satellite under the Dnepr program involving Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, which converts RS-20 intercontinental ballistic missiles into carrier rockets to place satellites into low Earth orbit. Around 50 satellites have been put into orbit so far.

The RS-20, classified by NATO as the SS-18 Satan, is the most powerful ICBM in the world. It was first launched in 1973 and is still in service with Russia's Strategic Missile Forces.

Some missiles removed from the arsenal have been transferred to SMF storages and converted into Dnepr launch vehicles.

Russian-Ukrainian joint venture Kosmotras uses launch pads at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan and Russia's Strategic Missile Forces facilities equipped for RS-20 launches.

The spokesman said that two or three launches occur annually within the Dnepr program.

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