MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - A converted Russian ICBM has placed six scientific and commercial foreign satellites into orbit, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos announced on Thursday.
The carrier rocket lifted off from Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Wednesday with satellites from the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Britain, Argentina, and the United States.
The six satellites, ranging from 12 to 190 kilograms, are to be used for scientific experiments, remote Earth sensing, especially for agriculture and natural and manmade disasters, and as part of a global logistics tracking network.
This is the 13th launch of international satellites under the Dnepr program involving Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, which converts RS-20 intercontinental ballistic missiles into carrier rockets to place satellites into low Earth orbit. Around 30 satellites have been put into orbit so far.
The RS-20, classified by NATO as the SS-18 Satan, is the most powerful ICBM in the world. It was first launched in 1973 and is still in service with Russia's Strategic Missile Forces.
Some missiles removed from the arsenal have been transferred to the Baikonur space center and converted.
A spokesman for Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces said that two or three launches occur annually within the program.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.