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Russia set to put U.S. telecom satellite into orbit


MOSCOW, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is planning to launch on Thursday a U.S. Telstar telecom satellite on a Zenith carrier rocket from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency said.

"The launch of a Zenit-3SLB rocket with a Telstar-11N satellite is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Moscow time [18:30 GMT]," the Roscosmos official said.

The Telstar 11N, built by Space Systems/Loral for the Loral Skynet telecoms company, will provide services from 39 high-power Ku-band transponders spread across four different geographic beams in each of North and Central America, Europe, Africa and the maritime Atlantic Ocean Region.

The Zenit-3SLB is a modernized three-stage version of the Zenit-3SL, which was previously used at Sea Launch's floating platform in the Pacific Ocean.

Russia already carried out three successful space launches this year and is planning to set a world record by conducting a total of 39 launches in 2009 despite the global financial crisis.

The country carried out 27 space launches in 2008 and 26 launches in 2007, becoming the world's leader in this sphere.

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