Russian Government OKs launchers talks with ESA
On 14 December 2004 Prime Minister Fradkov signed instruction 1589-r authorising “Roscosmos to the signing procedure of the Agreement between the Federal Space Agency and the European Space Agency on long-term cooperation and partnership in design, development and use of launch vehicles”.
This decision opens the way for the signing of the “Agreement on Long-Term Cooperation and Partnership in the Field of Launchers between ESA and Russia”. As a first step this includes the commencement of the project to launch Soyuz from Kourou, and the further joint development of technologies for future transportation system.
Another important event that took place on 10 December was the announcement by French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin that an agreement has been reached concerning the funding of the Soyuz launch facilities in French Guiana. To do this France has guaranteed the loan asked by Arianespace from BEI the European Bank of Investment (BEI).
This means that work on the new launch pad, dedicated to the Russian launcher and costing an estimated €344 million, can now begin at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou. Of this amount, €121 million will be paid by the BEI loan.
Soyuz is due to be launched by Arianespace for the first time in 2007 and will complement the European heavy-class Ariane 5 and small Vega launchers.