A Russian Proton rockethauled a military communications satellite into orbit early Saturday.
Thethree-stage Proton booster, topped by a Block DM upper stage, blasted off at0410 GMT (11:10 p.m. EST Friday) from Complex 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome inKazakhstan.
The rocket's Block DM upperstage completed several burns to place mission's payload into a geosynchronoustransfer orbit stretching from an altitude of approximately 136 miles to a highpoint of about 22,000 miles.
The payload, believed to bea Raguda military communications satellite, separated from the Block DM at 1046GMT (5:46 a.m. EST), successfully punctuating the six-and-a-half hour mission,according to Russian defense officials.
Raguda satellites are alsoknown as the Globus series. The craft operate in geosynchronous orbit 22,300miles above the planet to relay critical communications between troops andmilitary leaders.
Saturday's launch was the secondProton mission of 2009, coming two-and-a-half weeks after another Protonrocket delivered two Russian civil communications satellites into space.
The next Proton flight isscheduled for March 28 to launch the W2A communications satellite for Eutelsat.
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