Russian weather satellite fails to enter orbit after launch

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Russian Federation said it had lost contact yesterday with a weather satellite just hours after it was launched from its Vostochny cosmodrome, in only the second rocket liftoff from the new spaceport.

The launch failure is likely to raise new questions about the capabilities of the Russian space program and its controversial multibillion-dollar effort to create the Vostochny launch complex as an alternative to the decades-old Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"The first scheduled communication session has failed to establish contact with the satellite due to its absence from the designated orbit", a Roscosmos spokesperson said.

'Currently all information is being analysed'.

"All the initial stages of the rocket's flight went according to plan", Roscosmos scientists said after the takeoff.

Along with the Meteor-M, 18 smaller satellites were launched from Vostochny at 0841 Moscow time (0341 a.m. GMT), Roscosmos said.

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The Roscosmos space agency reported that today's liftoff proceeded as planned, using a Soyuz-2-1b variant of Russia's workhorse rocket.

"The spacecraft is not to be found in the orbit", the source said.

The booster was also carrying micro-satellites built in Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that such contracts would help Russian Federation modernise its space industry.

Vostochny, located in the Amur region, which borders north-eastern China, is meant to reduce Russia's dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russian Federation leases in the former Soviet, Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.

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