Air France says rocket launch was reason Russia closed airspace

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Associated Press

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 2:05 PM

BERLIN (AP) — Air France now says the reason Russia closed its airspace today was a space launch.

The airline said earlier that the airspace closure was due to a military exercise.

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying American astronaut Steve Swanson and two Russians blasted off today from the Russian-leased Baikonur (BY'-kah-nur) cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, headed for the International Space Station.

Air France says a plane carrying 495 passengers and 22 crew members was diverted on its way from Shanghai to Paris after Russia announced on short notice that part of its airspace was closed. The flight was forced to land in Hamburg, Germany, to refuel because the plane had too little fuel on board to complete the flight following its detour.

The Airbus A380 was able to take off for Paris after an hour and a half.

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