Russia Launches New Military Satellite

Russia launched a Soyuzrocket Wednesday carrying a covert military payload believed to be a spysatellite with a high-resolution optical camera.

The Soyuz rocket liftedoff at 1658 GMT from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, accordingto Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The launcher reached orbitand deployed the spacecraft about eight minutes later, the Itar-Tass newsagency reported.

Russian military officialssaid the craft would be named Kosmos 2450, fitting with the defense ministry's nomenclaturefor military satellites.

Tracking data indicateKosmos 2450 is in an orbit with a high point of about 208 miles and a low pointof about 105 miles. The orbital inclination was reported as 67.1 degrees.

Analysts believe Kosmos2450 is a Kobalt-classsatellite with retrievable film canisters that can return imagery to Earththrough a mission lasting at least several months.

Earlier Kobalt spysatellites were operated in similar orbits.

Wednesday's launch was thethird Soyuz launch of the year and the 22nd space launch to successfully reachorbit in 2009.

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Stephen Clark is the Editor of Spaceflight Now, a web-based publication dedicated to covering rocket launches, human spaceflight and exploration. He joined the Spaceflight Now team in 2009 and previously wrote as a senior reporter with the Daily Texan. You can follow Stephen's latest project at and on Twitter.