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Soyuz rocket lifts off with Russian spy satellite

Posted: June 27, 2011

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A Soyuz rocket launched Monday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia with a top secret Russian photo reconnaissance satellite to spy on strategic sites around the world.

The launcher blasted off at 1600 GMT (12 p.m. EDT) from the Plesetsk space base. Liftoff occurred at 8 p.m. Moscow time, according to Russian news reports.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced the three-stage Soyuz booster placed the secretive spacecraft in the correct orbit about eight minutes after launch. The payload will be named Kosmos 2472 in the Russian military's nomenclature for defense spacecraft.

The payload is likely a Kobalt M reconnaissance satellite carrying a camera to snap photos of military installations, troop movements and other sites of interest around the world.

Kobalt satellites orbit between 150 miles and 300 miles above Earth.

High-resolution cameras on Kobalt satellites capture images of locations around the world. Kobalt spacecraft reportedly carry canisters to return film to Earth during the satellite's mission, which will last at least several months.

Monday's mission was the 28th space launch to successfully reach orbit in 2011. It was the eighth launch of a Soyuz rocket this year, and it was the fourth blastoff from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome since January.