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Soyuz-ST Takes Observation Satellite to Orbit

RIA Novosti

06:12 02/12/2012

MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti) - Europe’s dual-purpose observation satellite Pleiades 1B was launched into orbit by Russian Soyuz-ST-a carrier rocket on Sunday, a Roscosmos spokesman said.

The launch took place at 6:03 Moscow time [2:03 GMT] from the Kourou launch site in French Guiana .

“The spacecraft separated from the Fregat upper stage,” the spokesman said.

The Pleiades 1B new joined its “twin”, Pleiades 1A, to collect high-resolution imagery of objects as small as 0.5 meters. The satellites, which took the French Space Agency (CNES) nearly a decade to develop, will be used by the French military, other European governments and commercial customers.

The first launch of a Russian rocket beyond the ex-Soviet borders was held on October 22, 2011, when Russia’s Soyuz-ST-a carrier rocket blasted off from Kourou carrying two Galileo navigation system satellites.

The Soyuz-ST is a modification of the three-stage Soyuz-2 rocket with a Fregat upper stage adapted for launch in high heat and humidity prevalent in Kourou. It is fitted with a radar transponder allowing its location to be monitored and controlled in flight

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