Source AP ©

Russian rocket launches foreign satellites

A Russian rocket launched foreign satellites into orbit with seven of them developed be U.S. university students, officials said Tuesday.

The Dnepr booster rocket blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying one Egyptian and six Saudi satellites as well as seven CubeSat mini-satellites developed under a project by California Polytechnic State University and Stanford University's Space Systems Development Lab, said Federal Space Agency spokesman Igor Panarin.

The CubeSat program creates launch opportunities for universities previously unable to access space. More than 60 universities and high schools are participating in the CubeSat program.

A previous attempt to launch a cluster of CubeSat satellites failed last July when a Dnepr rocket crashed shortly after liftoff from Baikonur. The Dnepr is a conversion of the RS-20 intercontinental ballistic missile which is codenamed SS-18 Satan in the West.

Also launched Tuesday were Egypt's Egyptsat-1 intended for remote sensing of Earth and scientific research, Saudi Arabia's Saudisat-3 designed to take pictures of Earth and five SaudiComsat communications satellites.

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