Moscow, Oct26 (UNI) Russia has successfully conducted launch of an unmanned rocket carrying three Russian GLONASS navigation satellites from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) said today.
The Proton K rocket, which has been on the launch pad since Monday, lifted off at 1305 hrs IST and entered low earth orbit eight minutes later.
Kazakhstan lifted a ban on Proton launches from the Baikonur space center, which Russia rents from the ex-Soviet Central Asian country. The ban was imposed following a September 6 crash of a Proton-M rocket for which the country was seeking 60 million dollars in compensation.
The Proton is a heavy rocket which uses highly toxic heptyl as fuel. The rocket that crashed last month was carrying almost 219 metric tons of the fuel at the time of the crash, which contaminated a 32,000-hectare area of land near the industrial city of Zhezkazgan a few minutes after take-off, Ria Novosti reported.
Glonass (Global Navigation Satellite System) is designed for both military and civilian use, and allows users to identify their positions in real time.
It is designed to compete with the Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is being jointly developed with India.
A total of 380 million dollars was allocated for Glonass from the federal budget in 2007.
A full orbital group of 24 satellites will be ready for global coverage by the end of 2009, Roskosmos said earlier.