The second Lockheed Martin Titan 3B Centaur booster, the USA's most powerful unmanned booster, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 9 May, carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite into orbit.

The payload is thought to be a signals intelligence satellite operating from geostationary orbit. The US Air Force says that the launch was the first of three Titan 4 flights planned to lift off from Cape Canaveral this year.

Russia launched an OKO missile early warning satellite into a 510 x 39,205km 63° inclination elliptical orbit from Plesetsk on 8 May aboard a Molniya booster, the first launch this year from the Russian cosmodrome.

On the same day, a Russian Proton K booster flying under the flag of ILS International Launch Services was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket carried the Lockheed Martin Echostar 4 communications satellite into geostationary orbit. This was the sixth ILS Proton launch and the first for the consortium since a failed launch last December.

ILS plans a further six Proton commercial missions this year.

Source: Flight International