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BIG splash by astra-1k

The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 10, 2002; 4:03 AM MOSCOW ââ The world's largest
satellite was sent plunging into the Pacific Ocean Tuesday two weeks
after a Russian
booster rocket failed to put it into the correct orbit, Russia's space
forces said.

European mission control used the Astra-1K's engines to push it back
into the earth's
atmosphere and plunge it into the southern Pacific Ocean, said space
forces spokesman
Vyacheslav Davidyenko.

The French made Astra-1K was rendered useless following its Nov. 26
launch on a Russian
proton rocket, when a Russian made booster unit failed to push the
satellite into its
intended orbit.

Its owners later established partial control over the satellite but said
it would never be
able to fulfill its main mission of handling signals for radio,
television, mobile telephones
and the Internet.

The failure marked another setback for Russia's satellite launching
program, which Moscow
sees as a potential cash cow for its depressed space industry. It
followed the Oct. 15
explosion of a Russian Soyuz-U rocket, also carrying a satellite, half a
minute after liftoff.

The Astra-1K, manufactured by France's Allocate Space corporation for
Society European
Des Satellites of Luxembourg, weighed nearly six tons and was the
largest communications
satellite ever built.

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