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Russia's top military and space official launched a search Tuesday for a missing military satellite that apparently was put into the wrong orbit shortly after its launch. The Russian defence ministry confirmed that it had lost sight of the craft -- a dual-use vessel that can draw a three-dimensional map of the Earth and locate the precise positions of various targets. The incident came just a month after President Dmitry Medvedev sacked two top space officials for a similar setback and delivered another humiliating blow to Russia's much-maligned space industry. The seriousness of the situation was underscored late Tuesday by reports that the defence ministry had set up an urgent joint task force with the Russia's space agency to look for the missing craft.
But the satellite did not enter the proper orbit, with some Russian reports suggesting its current flight path brings it as low as 205 miles (330 km) above the ground, AFP reported.