Russia’s Historic Rocket Launch Places Satellites in Orbit

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying navigation satellites has blasted off from French Guiana — the first launch of a Soyuz outside the former Soviet Union.

The rocket lifted off Friday from a new site at the Kourou space center in the jungle of French Guiana, off the Atlantic coast. Hours later, it placed into orbit the first two satellites in Europe's Galileo global positioning system .

The launch was postponed Thursday because of a defect with a fuel line.

The Galileo navigation satellites 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.