President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday oversaw the successful test-launch of Russia's newest heavy-class Angara rocket, a rare piece of good news in a week dominated by the economic crisis.
The president oversaw by video link the launch of the Angara-A5 from Plesetsk in northern Russia at 0557 GMT, saying the new rocket would allow the country better protection.
"Indeed, for our space industry and I suppose for the whole of Russia this is a major, very important event," Putin said from the Kremlin.
"Russia remains one of the internationally recognized leaders in space exploration."
Putin said that Russia will over the next five years conduct a series of test-launches for the Angara -- which is designed for civilian and military use, including the launch of manned spacecraft.
The Kremlin said the Angara -- named after a Siberian river flowing out of Lake Baikal -- was expected to launch a payload of two tonnes into space.
A locomotive pulled the huge white rocket out of a hangar in footage released by the defence ministry, with personnel bundled up against the cold.