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Russia successfully launches next-generation space telescope

The Proton-M, with Breeze-M upper stage and the payload, arrive at Pad No. 39. (alexpgp/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Russian Proton-M rocket has successfully launched a new cutting-edge space-based telescope after several days of launch delays.

The rocket launched on July 13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the Spektr-RG space telescope aboard.

The Spektr-RG, developed together with Germany, is intended to replace the Spektr-R telescope, which Russia lost contact with in January.

The Roskosmos space agency said the Spektr-RG would continue its predecessor’s mission of observing black holes, neutron stars, and magnetic fields, and would also work on a detailed map of Earth.

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The launch was originally set for June 21 but was delayed twice for technical reasons.

The Spektr-RG is headed for a point some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth called the L2 Lagrange point, a unique position from which the telescope can maintain a stable position relative to the sun and the planets.

It is expected to arrive at the L2 point in three months.