NATO satellite launched on Russian-Ukrainian rocket

MOSCOW — A NATO communications satellite was launched into orbit Monday aboard a Russian-Ukrainian rocket from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean, space officials said.

"The SICRAL 1B satellite was launched at 0816 GMT and successfully placed into orbit," a spokeswoman for the Russian mission control centre outside Moscow, Irina Manshilina, told AFP.

The satellite was launched aboard a Russian-Ukrainian Zenit 3SL rocket from the Odyssey platform in the Pacific Ocean, which is operated by Sea Launch, a US-Russia-Norwegian-Ukrainian joint venture 40 percent owned by Boeing.

It "is designed to provide communications services for the Italian Ministry of Defence, NATO and allied nations," Sea Launch said in a statement.

The satellite was built for the Italian defence ministry by the French-Italian firm Thales Aleni.

20 April 2009 — Return to cover.