AMUR OBLAST, Russia, April 28 (UPI) -- Russia finally launched its first rocket from its brand new Vostochny Cosmodrome on Thursday, a day after technical difficulties forced a postponement.
An unmanned Soyuz-2.1a rocket, carrying three satellites, lifted off from the launch pad in the remote Amur Region near China's border at 5.01 a.m. local time, state television reported.
Less than nine minutes into the flight, the satellites successfully separated from the rocket and headed for their designated orbits.
The launch was observed by a delighted Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had been less than pleased 24 hours earlier when the original launch had to be aborted at the last minute after automatic safety systems detected a fail signal in one of their sensors.
Putin, who had made a special trip to witness the historic moment, officially reprimanded Roscosmos head Igor Komarov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and military industries, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
"This is bad, and there should be a professional and prompt reaction," Putin told space officials.
But he was all smiles on Thursday.
"I want to congratulate you. There's a lot to be proud of," Putin said to cosmodrome workers and Roscosmos officials, Russian media reported.
"The launch could technically have taken place yesterday, but the hardware overreacted and it was aborted. But that's a normal occurrence.
"Most importantly, the launch complex you developed is operating, functioning well. There's a lot of work up ahead, but this was certainly a very serious, significant step in the development of Russian cosmonautics."
Despite the delay, the launch was a shining moment for the new cosmodrome, which has drawn negative focus for various problems since its construction started in 2012. The facility, in fact, isn't even finished. Officials expect it to be completed sometime in 2018.