US Satellite Launched in Kazakstan
MOSCOW (AP) _ A Russian Proton-K rocket carrying an American digital radio satellite successfully blasted off Saturday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakstan, space officials said.
The satellite, a CD-Radio-1 communicator, is designed to transmit television, radio and vehicular communications in a digital format over the United States, space officials said.
Saturday’s launch followed an agreement last week by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev to continue cooperation at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Russia’s main commercial rocket launching site.
Russia agreed to lease Baikonur from Kazakstan after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, but has frequently fallen behind in rent payments.
Twice last year, Russian rockets exploded over Kazakstan after lifting off from Baikonur, and Russian launches were banned for months.
Col. Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, commander of the strategic missile troops who launched the satellite, said the liftoff showed that Russian rockets were safe.
``The successful launch of the Proton-K rocket at a time when preparations are underway for the launching of the Zvezda service module to the International Space Station is convincing evidence of the reliability of Russian rockets,″ he told the ITAR-Tass news agency.
After two years of delays, Russian space officials this week set a July 12 launch date for the service module, which will serve as initial living quarters and steer the massive craft.