Russian launch of Hot Bird 8 successful

(Associated Press WorldStream via NewsEdge) A Russian booster rocket successfully launched a European telecommunications satellite early Saturday, amending the Russian space credentials after a failed launch 10 days ago.


The Proton-M rocket carrying the Hot Bird 8 satellite was launched from Russia's main space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, said Russian Federal Space Agency spokesman Igor Panarin.


'We are happy with the successful launch that once again has proven the Proton rocket's reliability,' Panarin told The Associated Press.


The previous Russian commercial satellite launch on July 26 that also took place from Baikonur failed when a Dnepr rocket - a civilian version of the Soviet-built SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile that carried 18 satellites - crashed shortly after blastoff. Kazakhstan, concerned that the crashed rocket's fuel was causing pollution, banned further launches of Dneprs until the cause of the July crash is determined.


The 4.9-ton Hot Bird 8 satellite, built by EADS Space for Eutelsat Communications, is the largest communications satellite yet orbited by the Paris-based company. It will provide television and radio broadcasting across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.


Eutelsat said in a statement that it had established signal acquisition from the satellite through its Rambouillet teleport near Paris. The satellite will enter commercial service in October, it said.


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