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. Brazil's President In Moscow Signs Deal For Joint Space Mission

Brazilian air force Lt. Col. Marcos Cesar Pontes (C), Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pose for a picture during their meeting in Moscow, 18 October 2005. Marcos Cesar Pontes is set to become Brazil's first astronaut with a forthcoming flight to the International Space Station (ISS), for which he is being trained at Russia's Star City training centre, officials said. The Brazilian space agency wants Pontes to blast off on a Soyuz rocket in April 2006 and has said it expects a firm date to be set by November 1. AFP photo by Yuri Kadobnov.
by Delphine Thouvenot
Moscow (AFP) Oct 18, 2005
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the first full day of a politically groundbreaking first visit to Moscow Tuesday signed a 20 million dollar deal to send one of his compatriots into space on a joint Russo-Brazilian mission.

Greeted at the Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lula applauded as the two countries' space agencies signed the contract which should see Brazilian cosmonaut Marcos Pontes take one of the three places on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft when it blasts off next year bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

"We plan to move to the creation of a 'technological alliance' with Brazil, in particular in the field of space," Putin said at the signing ceremony, held in the ornate setting of the Kremlin's Malachite Hall.

"The signing of this contract to send in 2006 a Brazilian cosmonaut to the ISS is an important step in this direction," Putin said, going on to congratulate Pontes.

Brazil's first man in space has just started his training at Star City, the training centre for Russian cosmonauts near Moscow, and is due to spend 10 days on the ISS.

"We hope his flight will take place sometime after March," Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, told reporters.

M. Perminov said Pontes's journey into space would cost Brazil 20 million dollars " as usual", the sum paid by US space tourist Greg Olsen for his trip to the ISS.

The deal comes as Russia is talking to the US space agency NASA about it sharing in the cost of taking astronauts and cosmonauts to the ISS.

Problems with the US space shuttles mean that only the Russians are in a position to provide transport to the ISS.

Russia and Brazil also signed a "cooperation protocol for the modernisation of VLS-1 launchers" owned by Brazil, which has a space centre at Alcantara in the northeast of the country .

"There have never been so many ties between us," said Lula, citing not only space cooperation but also cooperation in the energy field, in particular gas and "peaceful nuclear power", without giving any details of precise contracts in those areas.

Putin said that Brazil was a major economic partner of Russia's, with trade exceeding two billion dollars since the beginning of 2005.

"I shall go home in the knowledge that Brazil and Russia are making great strides to build a new world," said Lula, who signed a joint declaration with Putin speaking of the "importance" the two leaders accorded to "democracy" and "respect for human rights".

"Russia and Brazil are backers of democratic values and say they are in favour of the formation of a multipolar and just world space," Putin said, hinting to his guest at closer ties -- already suggested to China -- to balance US power.

Lula's visit was a fleeting one: the Brazilian president, up for re-election next year and recently emerged from a political crisis at home arising from illegal party financing, arrived Monday evening and was due to leave Tuesday evening.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Brazilian Leader To Sign Space Deals In First Russia Visit
Moscow (AFP) Oct 17, 2005
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will sign agreements on space cooperation with Russia on Tuesday during his first visit to Moscow, the Brazilian embassy said.
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