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Zenit rocket puts Israeli satellite into orbit

MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - A Ukrainian-Russian carrier rocket has successfully put an Israeli communications satellite into orbit, Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said on Monday.

The Zenit-3SLB rocket was launched earlier on Monday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan for the first time under the Land Launch program and after a number of delays.

"The separation of the foreign spacecraft from a Russian DM booster occurred successfully and on schedule," a Roscosmos spokesman said. "Control over Amos-3 was passed to the Israeli customer."

All previous launches of this type of Zenit rocket were conducted through the Sea Launch program from the Pacific Ocean.

The $170-mln Israeli satellite is to join the AMOS-2 satellite, replacing AMOS-1. It will increase capacity, expand coverage, and enhance direct cross-Atlantic links connecting the Mideast to Europe and the U.S. East Coast, according to the fleet's operator, Space Communications Ltd.

The Sea Launch and the Land Launch projects are both operated by the Sea Launch consortium, established in 1995. The company is owned by Boeing, Norway's Kvaerner ASA, Ukraine's Yuzhnoye design bureau and the Yuzhmash production association, as well as Russia's RSC-Energia.

Sea Launch has performed a total of 26 commercial launches for a range of companies, including EchoStar, DirecTV, XM Satellite Radio, and PanAmSat.

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