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Russian Soyuz rocket puts AMOS II into space
Israel's second communications satellite Amos II is set to be launched into space tomorrow night from Baikonur space station in Khazakstan aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The satellite, to be launched at 11:30 pm local time, was produced by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) at a cost of USD 150 million and is owned by the Israeli company Spacecom, a joint venture between IAI and three partners. It weighs 1.4 tonnes and is capable of television and radio broadcasting to Europe and Iraq, Kuwait and other Gulf States. According to Spacecom CEO David Pollack, 70 per cent of the satellite's capacity has been sold to Israeli and European cable television companies. Plans are also there to sell its capacity to the American government, US commercial firms and the United Nations in view of the American presence in Iraq for use in their broadcasts to Iraq and its neighbours. The launch will cost USD 30 million while 300 tons of fuel are needed to place it into orbit around the earth and another two weeks before it reaches its attained height. Tomorrow's launch is almost a year behind the schedule, initially caused by production problems and later by problems with the French Ariane 5 launcher and the producer of the Soyez rocket. Amos I, Israel's first communications satellite, will remain in orbit for another two years. Spacecom is now seeking to raise funds to construct Amos III, twice or three times the size of Amos I, and aimed to be launched in 2007, said Pollack. (PTI)
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