Proton-M blasts off from Baikonur

Russia has successfully launched its first rocket of the year. The Proton-M carrier blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket is carrying a Russian communication satellite which will provide television broadcasting and data transfer services in the country.

It has been built by a Russian-French joint venture and has an operational period of twelve years.

The satellite – which is expected to reach its orbit on Monday's early afternoon – is seventh in the series.