Russian rocket boosts European satellite into orbit

A Russian booster rocket successfully launched a European telecom satellite, 10 days after another rocket carrying 18 satellites crashed after launch, an Associated Press report said.

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

"We are happy with the successful launch that once again has proven the Proton rocket's reliability," Panarin was quoted as saying.

The previous Russian commercial satellite launch on July 26 failed when a Dnepr rocket 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 crash had been 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, the report said.

Eutelsat said in a statement that it had established signal acquisition from the satellite. The satellite would enter commercial service in October, the report said.