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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rocket Blasts Lab Into Orbit

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan -- A rocket blasted a European research laboratory into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Thursday, just two days after a launch in the Arctic ended in disaster.

The state of the art Integral laboratory, successfully launched from Baikonur by a Proton-K booster, will be used to study radioactive gamma rays and black holes -- regions of space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape, making them impossible to see.

The satellite, a project which the 15-nation European Space Agency has been preparing since 1989, is due to remain in orbit for five years.

Integral includes the world's most advanced gamma ray telescope and, at two metric tons, is the largest satellite ESA has ever put into orbit.

On Tuesday night, a Soyuz-U cargo rocket carrying a European satellite, exploded on lift-off from the Plesetsk base just inside the Arctic Circle. A serviceman was killed.

David Southwood, head of the ESA Science Program, said the explosion would have no effect on cooperation between Russia and the agency.

"We understand this is a risky business and that accidents happen," he told reporters. "We are optimistic and we think that yesterday's accident will not affect our joint work."

The next manned launch from Baikonur is planned for Oct. 28, when a Soyuz capsule carrying three cosmonauts is to blast off on a 10-day mission to the international space station.