Soyuz rocket with dual-use satellite installed on launch paid

A Soyuz-2.1a rocket with a Meridian satellite has been installed on a Plesetsk launch pad and prepared for takeoff, Aerospace Defense Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin told Interfax-AVN on Sunday.

"The state commission decided the day before that the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with the Meridian satellite could be installed on the launch pad," he said.

Space Center personnel are running tests on the rocket and the launch pad systems.

The dual-purpose satellite launch will be the first since the accident of December 2011, in which Russia lost a similar satellite due to the engine failure of the Soyuz-2.1b third stage.

Federal Space Agency head Vladimir Popovkin said then the third stage's engine combustion chamber cracked open.

"The accident resulted from destruction of the third stage engine caused by the combustion chamber burn-through," he said.

Soyuz-2.1b with a Fregat third stage lifted off the satellite from Plesetsk. The flight stopped at the 426th second with the emergency shutdown of the third stage engine, he said.

Soyuz-2.1a, which is due to launch a Meridian satellite in mid-November 2012, has a different third-stage engine.

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