A Russian Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifted off with a communication satellite Thursday from the Plesetsk space center located in the country’s north, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.
A spokesman for Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces told Ria Novosti that the Soyuz-2.1b -- a medium-class space rocket -- was launched at 6:01 a.m. Moscow time (10:01 p.m. EST, Wednesday), and that it successfully launched the satellite into orbit.
“It was the sixth launch of the medium-class Soyuz 2 rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome by the Aerospace Defense Forces in 2014,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, obtained by RT.com. “The previous launch was on December 1, when a second Glonass-K satellite of the Russian global positioning satellite system joined the orbital constellation.”
Glonass, or Global Navigation Satellite System, was first introduced in 1993 and is considered to be Russia’s answer to the American Global Positioning System (GPS). There are 24 Glonass satellites in orbit, providing synchronized positioning and speed data for surface, sea and airborne objects, Ria Novosti reported.
On Tuesday, Russia successfully tested a new, heavy-load space rocket, called the “Angara -A5”, which had been in development for two decades. Russia had first tried to launch the rocket in June, but eventually aborted it due to a technical problem, The Associated Press reported.
The Angara booster rocket is developed to replace the Soyuz, which is currently the only means by which to deliver crews to the International Space Station.