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Russian rocket orbits US telecom satellite

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The Proton-M carrier rocket lifts off with the SkyTerra 1 satellite. An ILS photo

BAIKONUR (BNS): A Russian Proton-M carrier rocket has successfully orbited a US telecommunications satellite.

The rocket, with a Breeze-M booster, lifted off from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan at 8.29 p.m. Moscow time (16:29 GMT) on Sunday to launch the SkyTerra 1 communications satellite.

The satellite was slated to separate from the Breeze-M booster at 5:43 am Moscow time (1.43 GMT) on Monday, Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

It was the tenth successful launch of the Proton spacecraft this year, the space agency said. The launch was conducted under a contract by the Russian-American joint venture company International Launch Services Inc. (ILV) based in Reston, Virginia.

The 5,390 kg SkyTerra 1 satellite has been designed and developed by Boeing for the US operator LightSquared. The commercial satellite is based on Boeing 702 Geo-Mobile (GEM), a modified Boeing 702 platform.

Featuring a 22-meter L-band reflector-based antenna -- the largest commercial antenna reflector to be put into service -- SkyTerra 1 will provide voice and data services.

It will be among the first to combine satellite and terrestrial technologies for use in standard handsets and other devices.

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