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. Russia France Sign Deal On Soyuz Missile Launches

The 344-million-euro Kourou launch site located near the equator will make it possible for Russia's updated Soyuz-ST to orbit heavier cargoes than from the Plesetsk Space Center in northern Russia or the Baikonur launch pad rented by Russia from Kazakhstan.
by Staff Writers
Moscow, Russia (RIA) Feb 14, 2006
Russian and French space officials have concluded a contract on four launches of new missile carriers from a launch site in French Guiana, a senior Russian designer said Tuesday.

Russia's Lavochkin design bureau, backed by the Russian Space Agency, will conduct four launches of the Soyuz-ST missile carrier from the Kourou launch site on the northern coast of South America over 10 years, said Georgy Poleshchuk, the general director and chief designer of the bureau, when French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin visited the office.

"We have a contract for the four launches - the Lavochkin bureau will be involved in all of them, using its Fregat upper-stage rocket," he said. "The first launch will be experimental and semi-commercial, and all the others, commercial."

Poleshchuk said the Fregat's capacities were unrivaled in terms of carrying spacecraft of up to 3,300 kg into space.

Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian Space Agency, said the work on the equatorial launch site was proceeding as scheduled.

"The first launch of the Russian Soyuz will take place in the second half of 2008 or early 2009," he said.

Perminov said that manned spacecraft could also be launched from Kourou, but added that it was up to the French to decide. "Technically, it is possible," he said.

The 344-million-euro Kourou launch site located near the equator will make it possible for Russia's updated Soyuz-ST to orbit heavier cargoes than from the Plesetsk Space Center in northern Russia or the Baikonur launch pad rented by Russia from Kazakhstan.

The project, which is based on a November 2003 agreement between the Russian and French governments, will also allow Russia to substantially expand its commercial use of Soyuz missile carriers on the international market.

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Plesetsk To Launch 8 Satellites 2 ICBMs In 2006
Moscow, Russia (RIA) Feb 14, 2006
Russia plans to launch eight satellites and two intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Plesetsk Space Center in the country's north, a Russian Space Forces official said Tuesday.

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