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Soyuz rocket launches military payload to orbit

Posted: November 20, 2009

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Russia launched a military spy satellite into space Friday on a Soyuz rocket from the country's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, according to the defense ministry.

The secret payload lifted off at 1044 GMT (5:44 a.m. EST), or in the early afternoon at Plesetsk, a military-run launch base in Russia's northern Arkhangelsk Oblast.

The three-stage Soyuz rocket delivered the spacecraft to an elliptical orbit with a high point of about 560 miles and a low point of approximately 120 miles. The orbit's inclination is about 67.2 degrees, according to tracking data.

Military officials did not release any details on the payload of Friday's launch, but the satellite could be a next-generation electronic intelligence mission.

The satellite was named Kosmos 2455 after the launch as part of the Russian defense ministry's naming system for spacecraft. The payload was the sixth Russian military satellite launched this year.

Friday's launch was the 12th flight this year of a variant of the venerable Soyuz rocket family. It also marked the 63rd space launch worldwide to successfully reach orbit this year.