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Russia launches Proton rocket with British satellite

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday successfully launched a Proton rocket with a British satellite in the first such launch since an engine failure in May resulted in a Mexican satellite being destroyed.

A Proton-M rocket carrying an Inmarsat-5 F3 communications satellite launched from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1144 GMT as scheduled, Russia’s space agency said.

“The launch went as planned,” spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos Igor Burenkov told AFP.

“All the systems operated remarkably well.”

The launch is crucial for Inmarsat, Britain’s biggest satellite operator, which said that together with two other satellites, it will create “the world’s first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service, delivered through a single provider.”

A similar rocket carrying a Mexican satellite fell back to earth on May 16 after suffering an engine malfunction in one of a series of embarrassing failures for Russia’s troubled space programme.

The state-run Khrunichev Centre spacecraft manufacturer said the failure was due to a construction flaw in one of the engines.

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