Russian Soyuz to Launch Outside Former Soviet Union for First Time

Posted October 18th, 2011 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
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A Russian Soyuz rocket is scheduled to launch Thursday from French Guiana, in South America. This is the first time the Russian Cold War-era rocket will launch outside the former Soviet Union.

The Soyuz rocket will carry the first two satellites of Europe's Galileo global positioning system into orbit. Galileo is intended to give European nations independence from the American global positioning satellite system.

In 2003, Russia and France completed a deal for the European space company, Arianespace, to use the Soyuz for some of its launches. The agreement will infuse much needed money into the Russian space program.

Soyuz rockets have completed nearly 1,800 successful launches since the first flight in 1957.