, MOSCOW, Russia Sept 28 – Russia on Sunday successfully launched a Proton-M rocket carrying a satellite into orbit in the first such launch since one of the rockets fell back to Earth soon after liftoff in May.
The Proton-M rocket lifted off on schedule from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:23 am Moscow time (2023 GMT Saturday), carrying a Russian communications satellite, Russia’s space agency said in a statement.
“At 09:26 Moscow time (0526 GMT), the satellite separated from the Briz-M upper-stage rocket and reached the set orbit,” Roscosmos said.
Russia had suspended launches of Proton-M rockets after one carrying one of the country’s most advanced communications satellites failed less than 10 minutes after liftoff on May 16 and burnt up in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
The Proton is the workhorse of Russia’s space industry, earning tens of millions of dollars a year by launching Western and Asian satellites.
The upgraded M version of the Proton has experienced a string of problems that have threatened Russia’s reputation as a reliable and cost-effective alternative to US and European rockets.
The Proton-M was previously grounded in July 2013 when it crashed back to Earth with three Russian-made Glonass navigation satellites.