Russia confirms plans of rocket launch from French Guiana in 2010
MOSCOW, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov on Tuesday confirmed plans to launch a Soyuz carrier rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana later this year.
The launches have repeatedly been postponed, with the latest deadline set for April 2010.
"This year, I hope, a milestone rocket and space industry event will take place: a modernized Soyuz carrier rocket will blast off from the French Kourou space center," Ivanov told the Rossiya 24 news channel.
He added that Russia would "gradually increase" funding for its space programs, which currently stands at approximately $2.7 billion.
Parts of two Soyuz-ST rockets, modernized versions of the Soyuz-2 rocket developed specifically for launches from the Kourou space center in South America, were delivered to French Guiana last year.
The Kourou launch site is intended mainly for the launch of geostationary satellites. Its proximity to the Equator will enable the Soyuz-ST to put into orbit heavier satellites than those launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in northern Russia.
Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos and French satellite launch firm Arianespace signed a contract in 2008 to launch 10 Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from a separate launch pad in French Guiana near Sinnamari, a village 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the site used for the Ariane-5, the main European-made booster.
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