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Russia launches Meridian dual-purpose satellite


10:09, November 15, 2012

MOSCOW, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- A Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket carrying a Meridian new-generation military communications satellite blasted off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome Wednesday.

The launch of the Soyuz equipped with the Fregat upper stage was carried out at the designated time and went smoothly, Russian Aerospace Defense Forces spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin told reporters.

The satellite was launched at 15:42 Moscow time (1142 GMT).

Newly appointed Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was present at the launch site in northern Russia.

The launch was the first of its type since an accident in December 2011, in which a similar satellite was lost due to engine failure on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket.

Meridian is designed to provide a communications service for sea vessels and aircraft in the Polar and Far East regions. Russia has two other satellites of this class in service.

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