Russia Set to Make Historic Rocket Launch Thursday

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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Russia's Soyuz carrier rocket is set make its first launch from outside the former Soviet Union on Thursday, carrying European satellites.

The Soyuz is scheduled to blast off from a new launch site at the Kourou space center in the jungle of French Guiana, off the Atlantic coast.

The Russian rocket will carry Galileo navigation satellites, which are expected to curb Europe's dependence on America's GPS system.

European and Russian space officials hope the Soyuz rocket will lift off from the new launch site with people on board in a few years.

Russia's Itar Tass news agency says the French Guiana launch site took six years to build at a cost of $484 million.