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Australia Signs Space Launch Agreement With Russia

Despite a tough launch market two Australian companies are determined to relaunch Australia back into space after decades of disinterest from government.
Image courtesy APSC
Canberra - May 23, 2001
Australia and Russia have signed a bilateral space activities agreement that will enable two separate launch projects to use Russian rockets for launching satellites from Christmas Island off Australia's north west in the Indian ocean at 10.5 degrees south, and Woomera in centeral Australia.

The Australian trade minister Senator Nick Minchin, and Mr Yuri Koptev, Director-General of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency signed the agreement Wednesday.

Senator Minchin said the Agreement was a major step for Australia.

"It declares our intention to become a major player in the international space industry and consolidates our position with Russia in the face of intense interest from a range of other countries," he said.

"The Agreement also consolidates the strong relations which already exist between our two countries.

"I am delighted to welcome Mr Koptev to Australia to sign the Agreement. Mr Koptev has made a strong contribution to the space industry, most recently in overseeing the successful de-orbit of the MIR space station. I look forward to working with him as Australia enters the exciting launch market."

The Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Australia on Cooperation in the Field of the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes provides a framework for cooperation between the two countries and addresses such matters as intellectual property, forms of cooperation, relief from customs duty, liability and security of technology.

A number of companies are proposing to establish space launch facilities in Australia, of which two will use Russian launch vehicles.

The Asia Pacific Space Centre project will represent the first dedicated commercial deployment of a wholly Russian launch vehicle outside the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Spacelift project will represent the first deployment outside of the CIS of the Start launch vehicle regulated under the US-Russian START I Treaty.

"This Agreement will facilitate the start of proposed space launch projects by providing for the transfer of information and technology between our two countries," Senator Minchin said.

"The benefits of this Agreement should not be underestimated. Not only will the Australian space launch industry directly benefit from the transfer of technology, but, over time, the broader community will benefit through collaboration with Russia in space-related research and technology development.

"The industry is expected to contribute up to $2.5 billion to the balance of payments through till 2010 and to generate several thousand new jobs over the coming decade.

"As all of the proposed launch sites are based outside of the major metropolitan areas, significant benefits will also accrue to regional Australia."

Related Links
Asia Pacific Space Centre
Space Activities in Australia: Licensing and Safety
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Russian Approves New Australian Launch Project
San Diego - Sydney 23, 2001
The Russian Government recently approved co-development of a new launch vehicle dubbed "Aurora" being developed and marketed by Asia Pacific Space Centre. APSC hopes to use a new spaceport the aspiring a launch company would like to build on Christmas Island an Australian territory located in the north east India Ocean.

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