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Russia's Soyuz-ST-B rocket set to fly from French Guiana in Aug '11

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The Soyuz ST carrier rocket.

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia’s Soyuz-ST-B spacecraft carrying the Galileo navigation satellite will make its maiden flight from European spaceport French Guiana on August 11, 2011.

The launch of the spacecraft, earlier scheduled for December 17, 2010, will now take place in August, the Progress Design bureau said Wednesday.

"The new schedule of work under the programme of Soyuz launches from Guiana envisages the first launch of the Soyuz-ST-B carrier rocket on August 31, 2011," Ria Novosti quoted the design bureau's press service as saying.

The rocket will launch two Galileo navigation satellites for Europe.

The December launch of the Soyuz-ST-B with the Hylas communication satellite was put off as the rocket was not ready to fly at that time, the news agency said.

Russian space agency Roscosmos and French launch services provider Arianespace had inked a deal in 2008 to launch 10 Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from French Guiana.

The two sides, in June last year, signed another deal to launch more Soyuz vehicles from the Guiana spaceport.

The Soyuz ST rocket, which is a modernised version of the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket, has been designed specifically to conduct satellite launches from the Kourou Space Centre.

The relative proximity of Kourou to the equator will enable the Soyuz-ST to put into orbit heavier satellites than those launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in northern Russia.

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