The first launch of the Russian carrier rocket Avrora with the Korvet acceleration unit from the Australian Christmas island in the Indian ocean is expected in 2004, the chief of the Russian Aerospace Agency (Rosaviakosmos), Yuri Koptev, said Tuesday. He said the agreement, signed the other day with the Australian Asian-Pacific Space Center corporation, envisages, at the first stage, 30 launches of Russian carrier rockets and acceleration units after the cosmodrome has been built. The agreement, which has been approved by the Australian government, can be extended, said Koptev. Russian specialists will be engaged in construction of the space center on the Christmas island, north-west of the Australian continent. The center will be used for commercial launches. According to the Rosaviakosmos chief, the Russian middle-class rocket Avrora with the Korvet acceleration unit will be used for the launch of spacecraft for research, navigational, cartographic, communication, environmental monitoring and minerals survey ends.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart