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One And Only Satellite Launch This Year From Russia's Far Eastern Cosmodrome

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A Soyuz rocket carrying British satellites blasts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome on December 18.

Russia has hailed what it says was the first and only commercial launch this year from a space center in the country’s Far East that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays.

A Soyuz rocket carrying 36 British telecommunications and Internet satellites blasted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome on December 18, the Russian space agency Roskosmos said.

A spokesperson for the agency said that the launch was the first and only one to take place at the Vostochny Cosmodrome this year.

Hours later, Roskosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin announced all the satellites had reached their intended orbit.

"The mission has been successfully completed. Congratulations!" he wrote in a tweet.

The high-tech equipment belongs to a London-based company -- OneWeb -- which is building a network in low orbit as part of a project to provide enhanced broadband services to countries around the globe.

The company has launched nearly 100 satellites into orbit so far. It hopes to have its Internet service up and running, supported by some 650 satellites, by 2022.

Several unmanned launches have taken place from the Vostochny Cosmodrome since 2016.

The facility near the border with China is intended to reduce Russia's dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome it rents from Kazakhstan.

The project was plagued by controversy, including corruption linked to work-related contracts and construction delays.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Interfax
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