Russia launches three military satellites

Moscow, Jan 15 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia has launched three Cosmos series military-purpose satellites, the Aerospace Defense Forces said Tuesday.

A Rokot launch vehicle carrying the satellites successfully lifted off from the Plesetsk Space Centre in northern Russia, marking the first space launch in 2013.

"The Rokot carrier rocket with three military satellites was successfully launched at 8.25 p.m. Moscow time," spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.

The blastoff had initially been scheduled for Dec 8, but was postponed due to malfunctions in the Briz-KM booster.

The light-class Rokot launch vehicle is a modified version of the Russian RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile.

It uses the two original lower stages of the ICBM, in conjunction with an upper-stage block containing the Breeze-KM booster and space-bound payloads.

According to the Russian defence ministry, a total of 16 Rokot launches have been carried out from the Plesetsk site since the first launch May 16, 2000.

However, Rokot launches have been suspended for about 18 months after the vehicle failed to put the Geo-IK-2 military satellite into the designated orbit Feb 1, 2011.

In the first launch of Rokot in more than a year, a rocket with a Cosmos class military satellite and three civilian satellites on board blasted off July 28, 2012.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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