Image: Cosmos 3M launch
Reuters
The Cosmos 3M rocket blasts off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on Thursday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 10/27/2005 2:40:58 PM ET 2005-10-27T18:40:58

A booster rocket blasted off Thursday carrying a Russian satellite as well as mini-satellites for Iran, China, Britain and university students from Europe and Japan.

The Cosmos 3M rocket was launched from the northern Plesetsk cosmodrome. It carried Russia’s Mozhayets 5 satellite, intended to carry experiments in optical communications and seven smaller foreign satellites, said Alexei Kuznetsov, a spokesman for Russia’s Space Forces.

Iran’s 350-pound (160-kilogram) Sina 1 satellite is intended for long-distance probes of the Earth’s surface. It was manufactured by the Polyot plant in the Siberian city of Omsk, the Space Forces’ press service said.

The Chinese satellite, Beijing 1, was produced by the British firm Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and will monitor natural and technical disasters and conduct research on agriculture and the environment, the Space Forces said. The British-Chinese cooperation has sparked some controversy over missile technology transfer, but SSTL emphasized that the satellite's application was scientific rather than military.

The rocket also launched a mini-satellite built by students from more than 20 universities across Europe as part of a European Space Agency program. The SSETI Express satellite, about the size of a standard washing machine, will be used for Earth observation and amateur-radio transmissions.

The satellite deployed three even smaller university-built "picosatellites," each about 4 inches (10 centimeters) wide: Japan's XI-5, Germany's UWE-1 and Norway's Ncube 2.

Britain also sent up TopSat, a satellite for long-distance Earth probes and experiments in satellite technology, the Space Forces said.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and Reuters.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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