SCOTLAND'S first satellite has been successfully launched into space by a Russian rocket.

UKube-1, a state-of-the-art nanosatellite which is the size of a shoebox, was built by Clyde Space.

It was launched at 5pm yesterday in Kazakhstan, sparking celebrations at the company's Glasgow base.

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The device will orbit at a distance of around 635 kilometres and its mission is due to last for a year.

First Minister Alex Salmond hailed the launch as a "landmark occasion" for Scotland.

He added: "The space sector offers huge economic potential for Scottish companies. The UKube-1 launch might be one nanosatellite, but it is one giant leap for Scottish space exploration."

The satellite features GPS devices aimed at measuring space weather, as well as a a camera that will take images of the Earth.

The satellite is part of the national collaborative ­CubeSat programme and will also carry out a series of experiments, some of which UK students and the public can interact with.

Craig Clark, Clyde Space chief executive, said: "This is a very significant day for Clyde Space and we are now looking forward to more space missions and further success.

"It is fantastic that a spacecraft designed, built and tested in Scotland by a Scottish company has been so successful."