European telecommunications satellite goes into orbit

14 Aug 2006

A Russian booster rocket successfully launched a European telecommunications satellite, 10 days after another rocket carrying 18 satellites crashed after launch.

The Proton-M rocket carrying the Hot Bird 8 satellite was launched from Russia's main space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and put the satellite into orbit, said Russian Federal Space Agency spokesman Igor Panarin.

'We are happy with the successful launch that once again has proven the Proton rocket's reliability,' Panarin told The Associated Press.

The previous Russian commercial satellite launch on July 26 failed when a Dnepr rocket crashed shortly after blastoff. Kazakhstan, concerned that the crashed rocket's fuel was causing pollution, banned further launches of Dneprs until the cause of the crash is determined.

The 4.9-ton Hot Bird 8 satellite, built by EADS Space for Eutelsat Communications, is the largest communications satellite yet orbited by the Paris-based company. It will provide television and radio broadcasting across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Eutelsat said in a statement that it had established signal acquisition from the satellite. The satellite will enter commercial service in October, it said.

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