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Rockot launches two Iridium satellites
Posted: Thu, Jun 20, 2002, 1:51 PM ET (1751 GMT)
Rockot booster in flight (DLR/Spaceflight Now) A Rockot booster successfully launched two Iridium satellites Thursday morning. The Rockot lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 5:34 am EDT (0934 GMT) Thursday, one day later than originally planned because of a minor spacecraft problem. The Rockot placed into the two spacecraft into 650-kilometer orbits inclined at 86.6 degrees. The two spacecraft will serve as on-orbit spares for the Iridium constellation of satellites, which provide global mobile telephony services. The constellation has 66 operational spacecraft and 14 on-orbit spares. The spacecraft are the final two Iridium spacecraft assembled, although components exist to build two more spacecraft if necessary. The launch is the second commercial Rockot mission of the year, after the launch of the two GRACE earth science spacecraft in March. The next commercial Rockot flight is scheduled for the first quarter of 2003, when the converted SS-19 ICBM will launch scientific microsatellites for Canada and the Czech Republic.
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