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Proton launches Integral observatory
Posted: Thu, Oct 17, 2002, 9:01 AM ET (1301 GMT)
Proton launch of Integral (ESA/S. Corvaja) A Russian Proton booster successfully launched Integral, a European gamma-ray observatory, early Thursday. The Proton lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:41 am EDT (0441 GMT) and placed Integral into an elliptical orbit that ranges between 10,000 and 153,000 km from the Earth, at an inclination of 51 degrees. The launch took place on schedule despite the failure late Tuesday of a Soyuz booster launched from Plesetsk; Russian officials noted that there was no reason for a delay since both a different launch vehicle and launch site were involved. The 4-ton Integral — a name derived from "INTERnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysical Laboratory" — includes two primary instruments designed to take images and spectra of objects at gamma-ray wavelengths. Integral also includes X-ray and visible light cameras to allow simultaneous observations over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Integral, built by Alenia Spazio, is primarily an ESA mission, but includes participation from Russia and the US, which is providing a ground station to receive data from the spacecraft.
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