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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Missiles Will Go to Space Program

Some of Russia's strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles will be converted into launch rockets for space satellites when their military usefulness expires, a Russian Army general said Thursday. Lieutenant General Yury Zhuravlyov, a commander in the Strategic Missile Force, told Itar-Tass that "after serving their appointed term in the military," some SS-25 missiles will be reconfigured and used for launching communications and other satellites. Zhuravlyov said converting ICBMs into rockets for civilian use could prove profitable for Russia and its cash-strapped space program. He said Russia has already signed multimillion dollar contracts with South Africa and other countries for launching communications satellites. Because the SS-25 launcher is mobile, it is capable of sending up satellites from various types of vehicles in almost any part of the world, Zhuravlyov said. On Wednesday, President Boris Yeltsin took part in a test carried out by the Strategic Missile Force, overseeing the launch of long-range ground-based and submarine-based ballistic missiles and a long-range cruise missile. According to Izvestia, it was the first time a Soviet or Russian president had taken active part in the process of a test launch and got a "first-hand look at how the red button works." Yeltsin was particularly interested in the time needed for retargeting nuclear missiles in a critical situation, Izvestia said. In May, the United States, Russia and Britain agreed to retarget their missiles away from each other. Wednesday's test included firing a Topol SS-25 ballistic missile from the launch facility in Plesetsk in northern Russia and a launch from a nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea. According to a press release from the Strategic Missile Force, the SS-25 will become the backbone of Russia's nuclear military arsenal.