Delayed Russian rocket lifts off

A Russian Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 satellites lifts off from the launch pad at the new Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Uglegorsk,Image copyright

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The Soyuz eventually lifted off on Friday after a 24-hour delay.

An unmanned rocket has been launched from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome, following a delay 24 hours earlier that drew the ire of Vladimir Putin.

The launch of the Soyuz was watched by the president, who had flown 5,000km to the country’s far east for the event.

The Vostochny cosmodrome was built to reduce dependency on the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan.

The rocket, which is carrying three satellites, left the earth at 05:01 Moscow time (02:01 GMT).

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The rocket is the first launched from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome.

The earlier attempt at launch was called off less than two minutes before liftoff on Wednesday, following a technical fault.

Mr Putin stressed that the launch delay was related to the rocket itself – not the cosmodrome, located in the Amur region near the Russian-Chinese border.

Media captionInside Russia’s new space port

It was Mr Putin’s personal idea to build a new space port in Russia to avoid any potential political risks of using the old Soviet launch centre at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

But construction of the vast complex in Russia’s far east has been hit by delays and dogged by corruption scandals.

Four people have already been arrested.

“If their guilt is proven, they will have to change their warm beds at home for plank-beds in prison,” the president has warned.

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