The first flight of Russia's Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the European space center in French Guiana may take place in March 2011, a senior Russian space official said on Wednesday.
The Soyuz-ST was originally scheduled to blast off from the European Space Agency's Kourou Space Center carrying a French satellite, Hylas, on December 17, but the launch was called off. The French operator said it was because it had become clear the Russian rocket would not be ready to fly by the end of the year.
Instead, Hylas will be taken into orbit by European-made Ariane 5 rocket, vice president of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, Viktor Remishevsky, told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
The Ariane 5 will blast off with Hylas and another satellite, Intelsat 17, in late November, CEO of France's launch services firm Arianespace, Jean-Yves Le Gall, said last week.
"The next spacecraft - these could be the Pleiades satellites of the French space agency - are scheduled to be launched in March 2011," Remishevsky said.
Roscosmos and Arianespace sealed a deal in 2008 to launch 10 Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from Kourou.
The Kourou Space Center's proximity to the Equator means it is nearly ideal for the launch of geostationary satellites and the Soyuz-ST will be able to orbit heavier satellites than those launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in northern Russia.
MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti)
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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.