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Russian Rocket Launches Communications Satellite Sextet

Russian Rocket Launches Communications Satellite Sextet
A Kosmos 3M rocket launches the German-built SAR-Lupe 2 satellite into space the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on July 2, 2007. A similar rocket launched six new Orbcomm satellites into orbit on June 19, 2008. (Image credit: OHB-System AG.)

PARIS — SixOrbcomm two-way messaging satellites successfully were placed into orbit June19 aboard a Russian Cosmos 3M rocket operating from Russia's Kapustin Yarspaceport, according to the launch services provider, Cosmos Space Systems AGof Germany and Russia.

Ft. Lee,N.J.-based Orbcomm Inc. will be integrating the satellites into its existingin-orbit fleet of 29 satellites in the coming weeks. In addition to buttressingOrbcomm's existing machine-to-machine communications service, the newspacecraft will permit the start of a new service for the U.S. Coast Guardcalled Automatic Identification System (AIS). The AIS payload deliversinformation on vessels in or near U.S. coastal waters that are equipped withAIS terminals.

The six satelliteswere built by a U.S.-Russian-German team including Orbital Sciences Corp. ofDulles, Va., which provided the satellites' electronics payload; Polyot ofOmsk, Russia, which built the satellites' platform; and OHB System of Bremen,Germany, which integrated the platforms and payloads and performed pre-launchtesting.

Polyot alsoarranged for the Cosmos3M launch services as part of its Cosmos Space Systems joint venture withOHB System.


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Charles Q. Choi is a contributing writer for and Live Science. He covers all things human origins and astronomy as well as physics, animals and general science topics. Charles has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. Charles has visited every continent on Earth, drinking rancid yak butter tea in Lhasa, snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos and even climbing an iceberg in Antarctica. Visit him at