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Russia Launches First Rocket From New Cosmodrome

A Russian Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 satellites leaves a trail of smoke as it lifts off from the new Vostochny cosmodrome, April 28, 2016.

Russia has launched the first rocket from its new cosmodrome, Vostochny, after a one-day delay for technical reasons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to the far-east Russian location for the launch, and congratulated cosmodrome workers after the event - while also scolding them for the delay.

"Despite all its failings, Russia remains the world leader in the number of space launches," he said at a televised meeting following the launch.

The Soyuz rocket carried three microsatellites into orbit Thursday. Putin said afterward that the next stage for Vostochny was to launch a heavier rocket.

Russian media reported early Wednesday that the first attempt at the launch was stopped just minutes before takeoff.

The Vostochny spaceport in Russia's far eastern Amur region has been hailed by the Kremlin as a major step forward, despite numerous construction delays and a budget of up to $6 billion.

It is seen as a means to reduce Russia's dependence on the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. Russia has been forced to pay rent for the use of Baikonur at the rate of $115 million a year since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But Russian officials say they will continue to use Baikonur for manned missions until 2023. Thursday's launch was the only one planned this year from Vostochny.