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Russia to Test Launch New Angara Rocket in June

Models of the Angara rocket family on display at a 2009 Moscow airshow Allocer

Russia's new Angara 1.2 rocket is set to perform its first test launch on June 25, a spokesman from the Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos, said Friday.

The rocket, named after a Siberian river, is a light booster that dispatches small satellites and other light payloads into orbit.

It will launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region without a payload and will not be sent into orbit on this flight, the spokesman told Interfax.

The Angara 1.2 will later be complemented by "medium" and "large" models that can send heavier payloads into orbit.

The development of the Angara family of rockets was commissioned in the 1990s in an effort to reduce Russia's dependence on components from abroad following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the Russian space industry, announced that Russia plans to test one of the Angara heavy rockets by the end of 2014.

One of the hallmarks of the Angara family will be the use of safer fuels.

Russia's largest rocket, the Proton, relies on a toxic type of fuel and has been the cause of a protracted spat between Russia and Kazakhstan.

Russia launches the Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in northern Kazakhstan, and Kazakh authorities have said that the fuel has significantly damaged the country's ecology.

A cosmodrome that Russia will use instead of the Baikonur facility is currently being built in Russia's Far East.

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