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Russia is to launch a Proton-M rocket carrying a communications satellite
Russia is to launch a Proton-M rocket carrying a communications satellite on February 10 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said on Thursday.

The Thor-2R comsat, owned by Norway's Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, will provide Ku-band fixed telecommunications and direct-to-home television broadcasting services from Telenor's 1 degree West Longitude orbital location.

Proton-M launch services are provided by Russian-American joint venture International Launch Services (ILS), which received $1.5 billion in new launch orders in 2007.

ILS is owned by Space Transport Inc., Khrunichev State Research and Production Center, and RSC Energia. Last year was the joint venture's first as an independent company marketing the Proton Breeze-M vehicle.

The company said the deals represent "contracts for 17 launches of Proton, Russia's premier heavy-lift launcher, through 2013." ILS has exclusive rights to market the Proton vehicle worldwide to commercial satellite operators. Khrunichev, one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry, manufactures the Proton.

ILS is incorporated in Delaware in the United States, and has its headquarters in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.


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