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By | June 11, 2007

      Soyuz Launches Satellite From Plesetsk Cosmodrome

      A Soyuz spacecraft launched a government satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, Starsem reported.

      It was the 1,722nd flight of a Soyuz launch vehicle, according to the company.

      Starsem, Arianspace and Russia report the satellite was inserted correctly into orbit.

      Boeing Delta II Rocket Launches Italian Satellite

      The Boeing Co. [BA] launched an Italian satellite using a Delta II rocket, the company announced.

      Boeing launched the first of four Italian Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation (COSMO) SkyMed spacecraft.

      Lift-off occurred from Pad SLC-2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. A Delta II 7420-10 configuration launch vehicle deployed the COSMO-SkyMed spacecraft to low-Earth orbit approximately 58 minutes after liftoff.

      The COSMO-SkyMed launch is the first Boeing commercial Delta II launch since Feb. 11, 2002, when Boeing launched five Iridium satellites from Vandenberg.

      Thales Alenia Space Italia, which provides Delta II tanks to Boeing, developed the COSMO-SkyMed program for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defence.

      It is an end-to-end Earth observation dual-use (civil and military) system composed of four medium-sized satellites and supporting ground stations for orbit control systems and data reception and processing. The system will take imagery of the Earth using an X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument capable of operating in all visibility conditions at the request of institutional and commercial users, including members of the civil, scientific and military communities.

      Space Shuttle May Launch Sept. 10 Next Year To Service Hubble Telescope

      Space Shuttle Atlantis, now docked to the International Space Station, has received yet another cosmic assignment, where it will launch Sept. 10 next year on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA announced.

      During the 11-day flight, seven Atlantis astronauts will repair and improve Hubble capabilities through 2013.

      The repair and rescue mission was decided after many scientists and others said Hubble provides priceless new knowledge about origins and formation of the universe.

      Mission planners have been working since last fall, when the flight was announced, to determine the best time in the shuttle manifest to service Hubble while minimizing the impact to the International Space Station assembly job that can be done only by the remaining space shuttle fleet before it retires Sept. 30, 2010.

      One drawback with the Hubble mission is that if there is a problem with Atlantis, the crew members won’t be able to use Hubble the way a troubled space shuttle crew can if they fly to the International Space Station (ISS). If there is trouble on a shuttle mission to the ISS, shuttle crew members can use the ISS as a life raft until another spacecraft can be sent aloft to give them a taxi ride to Earth.

      So here’s the solution for any shuttle problems on the Hubble mission. NASA will support a “launch on need” of a rescue shuttle flight if trouble arises. In the unlikely event a rescue flight becomes necessary, Space Shuttle Endeavour currently is planned to lift off from Launch Pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

      However, managers constantly are evaluating the manifest to determine the best mission options.

      Shuttle missions beyond the Hubble flight still are being assessed.

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