Russia launches space telescope

Agence France-Presse
Russia launches space telescope
The Spektr-RG is a space observatory intended to replace the Spektr-R, known as the 'Russian Hubble'

MOSCOW, Russia – Russia launched a space telescope Saturday, July 13, from the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, a joint project with Germany intended to replace one it lost in January.

Video posted on the website of the Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, showed a Proton-M rocket carrying the Spektr-RG taking off from the launch pad at Baikonur.

The launch was originally scheduled for June 21 but was postponed twice because of a battery problem.

The Spektr-RG, developed with Germany, is a space observatory intended to replace the Spektr-R, known as the “Russian Hubble,” which Roscosmos said it lost control of in January.

Spektr-R was launched in 2011 to observe black holes, neutron stars, and magnetic fields. Its successor will take up similar duties but will also work on completing the map of the world, said Roscosmos.

Russia’s space program, long a source of great pride to the nation, has suffered a series of humiliating setbacks in recent years, although the country remains committed to ambitious projects. (READ: First manned space mission launches since Soyuz failure)

Since 2011, Russia has been the only country capable sending teams to the International Space Station (ISS). (READ: Russian, North American astronauts return to earth)

But a series of recent setbacks together with corruption scandals within Roscosmos and the competition from Elon Musk’s SpaceX have threatened its monopoly.

The next launch to the ISS is scheduled for July 20 and will carry an Italian and US astronauts together with a Russian cosmonaut. – Rappler.com

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