The Proton-K carrier rocket with the Cosmos military purpose satellite was launched at 6:30 a.m. Moscow time from the Russian Baikonur space center. The launch was made in the interests of Russia's defense ministry, Alexei Kuznetsov, Russian Space Troops spokesman, told RIA Novosti Saturday.
He said Lt.-Gen. Oleg Gromov, Deputy Commander of the Space Troops for Armament, highly assessed the skill and coordination of actions of combat crews and thanked them for professionalism. He said the Cosmos series satellite launch is aimed at reinforcing the Russian military purpose orbital group. The spacecraft will be orbited with the help of the Russian DM acceleration unit at 1:06 Moscow time.
The Russian Proton-K rocket is a heavy class carrier. It is used both in a three-stage variant to put into low orbit (up to 200 km) space modules weighing less than 21 tons and in a four-stage variant with the DM or Briz-M type acceleration unit to put into geostationary orbit (35,900 km) satellites weighing up to 4.5 tons.
The previous launch of a spacecraft in the interests of the Russian defense ministry was made from Russia's northern space center near Plesetsk on February 18; a Molniya-M type rocket was used then. That launch was made in the framework of Russian Armed Forces command and staff exercises. Vladimir Putin observed the exercises and highly assessed Plesetsk military experts' work. On the same day, a successful training launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Baikonur space center (Kazakhstan) was made.
In accordance with the schedule for 2003-2006, 11 Protons are to be launched.
The heavy class carrier rocket Proton-K is one of the most reliable in the world. The rocket was designed by the Salyut R&D Bureau and produced by the Khrunichev Center. The rocket was added to the state's armory in 1976. This type of carrier was successfully launched in 96% of cases.