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Russia Helps To Launch Satellite

December 25, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ An American civilian satellite that is capable of conducting high-tech reconnaissance missions has been launched into space by a Russian booster rocket.

The Early Bird satellite that was put into orbit Wednesday will allow civilians to buy cartographic photos of earth formerly only available from military satellites equipped with powerful cameras.

The satellite had been scheduled to be deployed earlier this year, but its owner, Earthwatch Inc. of Boulder, Colo., postponed the launch from Russia’s Far East several times, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

This was the first American satellite to be launched by the Start-1 booster, a derivative of the Topol strategic missile of the Cold War era. The launch was the second ever from the Svobodny cosmodrome in the Amur region, which previously served as a strategic missile base.

Both the Svobodny cosmodrome and Start-1 booster rocket were inaugurated in March, when the rocket carried a military communications satellite into orbit.

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