Russian Proton Rocket Sends Satellite Into Orbit in Christmas Eve Launch

Russia's space agency Roscosmos sent a new satellite into orbit in a dazzling Christmas Eve launch today (Dec. 24). It's mission: to study Earth's weather from above. 

A Proton rocket launched the new satellite, called Electro-L 3, into orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:03 a.m. EST (1203 GMT), though it was 3:03 p.m. in the afternoon at the spaceport in Central Asia. 

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How Russia's Proton Rocket Works (Infographic)

The Electro-L 3 satellite is the third weather observatory of its kind for Russia's Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (known as Rosgidromet). The spacecraft is a geostationary satellite designed to track weather over one specific part of Earth for Russian weather officials. 

The first Electro-L satellite (No. 1) launched in 2011, with the second following in 2015. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.