Russian rockets to be launched from French Kourou space center

An agreement on the launching of Russia's Soyuz carrier rockets from the Kourou space center in French Guiana will be signed Friday in the course of Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to France, Rosaviakosmos official spokesman Sergei Gorbunov said.

"All the necessary changes, which suit both the Russian and the French sides, have been made in the agreement during today's meeting between Boris Alyoshin, Russia's Vice Premier, and Claudie Haignere, France's Minister Del. for Research and New Technologies, who is also a European Space Agency astronaut.

"The document is to be signed on November 7, immediately after Vladimir Putin's arrival in Paris," Gorbunov noted.

Negotiations between Rosaviakosmos and the European Space Agency on the possibility to launch Soyuz rockets from Kourou have been held for the past several years. At first, western partners expressed misgivings that Russian carrier rockets would compete with the European Ariana systems, but calculations have shown that these rockets will just supplement one another.

The agreement on Soyuz launchings from the Kourou space center will benefit both Russia, who will get a package of orders for satellite launchings for the next several years and an opportunity to launch satellites practically from the Equator, and the European Union, who will receive a reliable medium-class Russian rocket.

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