2008 Launch of New Soyuz-2 to be a Russian-French Affair

The Samara-based TsSKB-Progress Space Center plans to launch the first Soyuz-2 carrier rocket from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana in 2008 within the framework of the Russian-French project, TsSKB-Progress told Interfax-Military News Agency.

According to the official, preliminary negotiations are being conducted at the present time, and the Soyuz-Kourou contract may be signed in early 2005.

The official noted that the Kourou Space Center was situated near the equator, which allows a considerably greater payload to be launched into the orbit due to the Earth's revolution.

"In this light Soyuz-2 carrier rockets are to be adapted for corresponding climatic conditions and are to meet space center safety requirements," the official said.

The Soyuz-Kourou project envisions for the space center to build a launch system for carrier rockets, produced by TsSKB-Progress. The official noted that the construction of the launch system was slated for 2005, right after the contract was signed. Under the contract, the French side, which is also the main customer, will provide most funds.

The cost of the project will be defined after both sides submit the necessary documentation, the official said.

The test launch of the new Soyuz-2 medium carrier rocket was conducted at the Plesetsk Space Center in the Arkhangelsk region on November 8, 2004. The carrier rocket launched a spacecraft mock-up to the orbit specified.

TsSKB-Progress is Russia's flagship enterprise, specializing in developing, manufacturing, and operating medium carrier rockets, and automatic spacecraft, designed to carry out remote probing of the Earth, and various scientific experiments.

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