KOUROU, French Guiana — A Russian-made Soyuz rocket blasted off from French Guiana on Saturday and placed an Earth observation satellite into orbit for France, space officials said.
It is the fourth time that Soyuz, which first flew in 1966 and traces its roots back even further to the earliest Cold War intercontinental ballistic missiles, has been launched from outside its former Soviet bases.
The rocket lifted off at 11:02 p.m. local time (9:02 p.m. ET) from a launch pad at Europe's space base near Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America.
The initial launch attempt on Friday was scrubbed due to a technical problem.
After a 55-minute flight, the Pleiades 1B, a 1-ton observation satellite ordered by the French Space Agency, or CNES, separated from the rocket.
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Pleiades 1B will used extensively by the French defense ministry. It will also be used by Spain's defense ministry as well as by civilian and commercial customers.
Billed by CNES as "a significant improvement in technology over previous generation satellites," Pleiades 1B is designed to relay to Earth high-resolution images as small as 70 centimeters (27 inches) from a 20-kilometer-wide (12-mile-wide) Earth scan.
"It (Pleiades) is an innovative concept in that we share resources but we are able to separate the content for confidentiality," Lionel Peret, head of the Pleiades program for CNES, told Reuters.
It is the second of two satellites in the Pleiades series. The first was launched in December 2011.
European aerospace giant EADS Astrium was the prime contractor for the satellite.
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