MOSCOW (AP) _ Following a long delay, a Russian booster rocket lifted off Tuesday, carrying seven communications satellites into space.

The Proton-K rocket left the Baikonur cosmodrome in the former Soviet Central Asian republic of Kazakstan, according to the Khrunichev scientific and production center which makes the Proton boosters.

The launch, originally scheduled for March 31, was postponed twice due to strong winds and heavy rains. The rocket then had to be taken from the launch pad for a check of its electric system, which could have been damaged by the rain, the Interfax news agency said.

The Proton-K carried seven satellites for a planned global cellular phone network. Fifty-six of the planned 72 satellites have been placed in orbit.

The Motorola Co. of the United States is the main contractor for the project, Interfax said.