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An international consortium led by Boeing Co. blasted its first rocket into space from a floating Pacific Ocean platform as a prelude to using the novel technology in the commercial satellite market. The three-stage test rocket, built by Boeing's Russian, Ukrainian, and Norwegian partners, lifted off Saturday night from a converted oil-rig platform 1,500 miles southeast of Hawaii to deploy a dummy payload into orbit. The project's initial goal is to launch six to eight rockets a year.

Shrugging off the rising tensions over NATO attacks on Yugoslavia, the chief of the International Monetary Fund headed into a heavy schedule of meetings with Russian leaders in Moscow on a new multibillion-dollar loan the government needs to pay its massive foreign debt. Michel Camdessus was to hold discussions Sunday with finance and tax officials and to confer today with Prime Minister Primakov and Communist Party leaders. Both sides said they expected to conclude a deal soon. As Camdessus' meetings were beginning, unidentified men attempted an attack on the US embassy with rocket launchers and automatic rifles - apparently in protest at the NATO assault.

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