Russia launches European satellites into space

Russia has successfully launched a Rokot rocket carrying two European satellites into space from its military spacedrome of Plesetsk, the RIA Novosti news agency reported early Monday.

"The launch of the Rokot rocket carrying SMOS and Proba-2 satellites made for the European Space Agency was successful," a Russian space official was quoted as saying.

Rokot also successfully placed both satellites in orbit, officials said.

SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) is due to collect radio signals emitted by water cells on the Earth's surface, allowing it to determine changes in the water cycle due to global warming and other climate changes.

The satellite will provide maps of soil humidity from its 758-kilometre- (470-mile-)high orbit, as well as measure ocean salinity with its 69 linked antennas.

Proba-2 is part of the Project for Onboard Autonomy, and is due to test space equipment in real spaceflight conditions