A Russian Soyuz-2.1b booster is standing at the Complex 31 launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for liftoff with 34 OneWeb broadband satellites early Friday, local time.
The 15-story rocket was cocooned inside clamshell-like gantry arms as VIPs, reporters and photographers visited the pad late Thursday, hours before its scheduled liftoff at 2:42:41 a.m. local time Friday (2142 GMT; 4:42 p.m. EST Thursday).
The Complex 31 facility has hosted nearly 400 launches since the 1960s, according to Russian officials. It’s now the primary Soyuz launch facility at Baikonur after the decommissioning of nearby Complex 1, which was the departure point in 1957 for Sputnik — the first artificial satellite — and Yuri Gagarin in 1961, when he became the first human to travel into space.
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