January 30, 2009

Russia puts research satellite in orbit

Russia has launched its first rocket of the year, carrying a research satellite as its payload, a space agency spokesman said Friday.

The launch of the Cyclone-3 rocket from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia originally was scheduled for Thursday, but was delayed for technical reasons, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The Coronas-Photon satellite, which will study the sun from near-Earth orbit, is the third of three satellite placed in orbit under Russia's Coronas program. Coronas-I and Coronas-F were launched in 1994 and 2001, respectively, RIA Novosti said.

The satellite will study free energy accumulation in the sun's atmosphere, the relationship between solar activity and magnetic storms on Earth, accelerated particle phenomena and solar flares, the space agency spokesman said.

Russia scheduled two space cargo launches in February, one taking supplies to the International Space Station and the second carrying two new Russian Express-series communications satellites, space officials said. Both launches will be from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.