Russia launches Thai satellite on converted missile

October 1st, 2008 - 7:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Oct 1 (RIA Novosti) Russia Wednesday launched a converted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a rocket launch site in the south Urals to put a Thai earth observation satellite into orbit, the Strategic Missile Forces said. “The launch of the RS-20B intercontinental ballistic missile was made at 10:37 a.m. Moscow time [06:37 GMT],” spokesman Colonel Alexander Vovk said.

A representative of the Kosmotras international space company said earlier that liftoff from Yasny in the Orenburg Region was previously scheduled for Aug 6, but had been postponed due to a delay in obtaining permission from neighbouring Kazakhstan. During the launch, rocket parts were set to fall on Kazakh territory.

Kosmotras is a Russian-Ukrainian joint venture that converts RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) ICBMs, scrapped by Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces, into Dnepr launch vehicles.

The Theos satellite was designed and manufactured by French company EADS Astrium under a 2004 contract with the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology.

The Thai satellite was the third to be launched by Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces and Kosmotras from the Yasny launch site. Russia launched the Genesis I and Genesis II inflatable spacecraft from the same location in July 2006 and June 2007, respectively, under a contract with the US-based company Bigelow Aerospace.

Russia said in late July that the SS-18 remained the most powerful ICBM in the world and would stay in service with the Strategic Missile Forces until 2014-16.

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