Russia to get 121 million euros for joint project with ESA

Within the framework of the launch project of Russian carrier-rockets Soyuz from the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana, the European Space Agency will transfer 121 million euros to the Russian companies, a source in Rosaviakosmos said to RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

The money will arrive through the European operator of the future launches, Ariane Espace, directly on contracts with Russian companies and go to build a launch complex and update Russian boosters. The rockets will have a new digital control system and an improved first stage.

The first ESA payments may arrive to Russia in early 2004. Ariane Espace is going to recoup investments by the sale of the launch services, the spokesman for Rosaviakosmos said. He explained that the European partners operate the "industrial return" principle, under which the investments in a joint project are to be returned to the national industry later.

According to the source, the agreement on the launch of Russian Soyuz boosters from the ESA Kourou space centre, signed in Paris on November 7, so far outlines the principled aspects of cooperation. Safety and protection of the Russian rocket technologies have been worked out, the French government has okayed the construction of a launch pad and the intake of Soyuz boosters to France, the Russian government has given its agreement to the supply of rockets to a foreign cosmodrome. "The financial aspects can be adjusted in the process of work on the project", said the source.

The first launch of a Russian Soyuz from Kourou is planned for late 2006-early 2007.

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