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Russia launches first Proton rocket after crash
MOSCOW, Oct 26 (AFP) Oct 26, 2007
Russia carried out its first launch on Friday of a Proton cargo rocket since a previous such rocket crashed on the Kazakh steppe, a launch official told AFP.

The rocket, which is fuelled by a highly toxic propellant, was carrying three satellites that will form part of Russia's GLONASS navigation system.

The rocket "launched successfully" at 0735 GMT, the official from Russia's Khrunichev rocket centre said.

A Proton rocket carrying a Japanese communications satellite crashed on September 6 shortly after take-off from Baikonur, a Soviet-era facility that Russia rents from its neighbour Kazakhstan.

Wreckage plunged into a remote corner of the Central Asian republic prompting the country to suspend Proton rocket launches and an instruction that any such future launches should not take place over provinces where Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is present.

GLONASS is intended as Russia's answer to the United States' GPS system, although it has been beset by difficulties, not least a lack of production in Russia of GLONASS receivers for public purchase.

The Proton is fuelled by a hypergolic propellant that enables launching at a moment's notice, a requirement for carrying a nuclear payload, part of the rocket's original purpose.

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