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Russia: European Telecoms Satellite Lost After Launch

Moscow, 26 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's space agency said a European communications satellite was lost after its launch into space earlier today aboard a Russian rocket. The Astra-1K satellite was launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, aboard a Proton rocket. A spokesman for the space agency said the satellite reached its preliminary orbit but failed to accelerate and reach its ultimate orbit. The spokesman said a faulty Russian-made accelerator bloc was to blame.

The Astra-1K was intended to broadcast radio and television programming, as well as multimedia and Internet data to all of Europe. The manufacturer, the French company Alcatel Space, has said it was the largest civil telecoms satellite ever launched.