Launch of France's first Pleiades Earth-imaging satellite plus a quartet of French military radar-mapping microsatellites atop the second Russian Soyuz flying from the European spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana, suggests that some cross-fertilization may be in order for the troubled Russian space program. The Dec. 16 mission marked the second flight of the Europeanized rocket from the new Soyuz pad at Sinnamary (see photo). The four-stage Russian rocket—which is optimized for the ...

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