Russia says it has successfully conducted the first test launch of a powerful new booster rocket it has been developing for years.
Reporting to President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Angara-A5 rocket lifted off at 8:57 a.m. local time (0557 GMT/UTC) from the Plesetsk launch facility in northwestern Russia.
Putin, who took part in the launch ceremony by videolink, offered his congratulations on a "successful launch" and said the new rocket would "seriously strengthen Russia's security."
He said the Angara would put satellites in orbit "for systems of early warning of missile attacks, intelligence, navigation, communications, and relay."
State-run news agency TASS said Russia has spent 22 years and some $3 billion developing the 55-meter, 773-ton Angara, its biggest new rocket since the Soviet era.
Its powerful engine is designed to put Russia's heaviest satellites into orbit.
The Kremlin hopes it will reduce and help eventually end Russia's reliance on the Baikonur launch facility, which Moscow leases from Kazakhstan.
Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, and spaceflightnow.com