France launches spy satellites aboard Russian rocket

December 17, 2011 09:56


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KOUROU, French Guiana - A second Russian-built Soyuz rocket to be launched from French Guiana blasted-off late on Friday carrying six military spy satellites, space officials said.

The rocket blasted-off at 11:03 p.m. (2:03 GMT Saturday) from a launch pad at the European Space Agency's (ESA) launch center near Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America.

Approximately an hour after launch, five of the satellites separated from the rocket.

First to separate was Pleiades, a one metric ton observation satellite to be used by the French Defence Ministry.

Several minutes later, four ELISA (Electronic Intelligence by Satellite) demonstrator satellites to test space-based mapping of radar transmitters globally for France's Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) were released by the rocket.

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