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"Kommersant" newspaper No. 207

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Yesterday, Russian Satellite Communications Company ("RSCC"), a national satellite communications operator, and the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center ("KSRPSC") signed a cooperation agreement for renovation of Russian satellite communication constellation. The Khrunichev "Dialogue" light class satellite is supposed to be launched into orbit in 2003.

The industrial diversification held at KSRPSC enabled to start the development (for the account of KSRPSC) of "Yakhta" lightweight unified space platform which is used (though with the application of Canadian up-to-date transponders manufactured by EMS company) for "Dialogue" communications satellite being under production now. This project aroused interest of the biggest national satellite communications operator "Russian Satellite Communications Company".

Today, the RSCC space fleet comprises ten "Gorizont", "Express" and "Ekran-M" spacecraft positioned in geo-stationary orbit at the altitude of 36-thsd km over the equator. Each spacecraft carries 25-30 transponders. However subject to traffic, utilization of small satellites has become imminent to meet the needs of the customers. A small satellite carries 10 transponders at the most.

The cost and launching conditions are very attractive. "Dialogue" will be placed into geo-stationary orbit by "Rokot" lightweight launch vehicle (produced by KSRPSC) from Plisetsk launching pad early in 2003. After six months in flight the satellite will be tested and handed over to RSCC. RSCC will effect payments to KSRPSC only after the satellite is registered as RSCC property. Though the parties undertook to keep the commercial aspect of the deal in confidence, according to Mr. B. Antoniuk, Director General of RSCC, "The cost of each transponder in orbit will run to no more than $ 3.7 mln. USD".

Though KSRPSC and RSCC made an agreement on the manufacture and launching of one satellite only, Mr. A. Medvedev, Director General of KSRPSC, believes that the number of those willing to use "Dialogue" services will increase after the first successful launching. By now, the interest in the spacecraft has already been shown not only by RSCC but also by "Intersputnik", the international space communications organization. The organization has already placed an order for launching of two satellites of this class scheduled for 2003. According to Mr. A. Medvedev, "Not only the first launch of "Dialogue" satellite will take place in 2003, but also there will be the first launching of new "Angara" lightweight launch vehicle, which is supposed to replace "Rokot" launch vehicle.

"Kommersant", 13.11.2001
В© Ivan Safronov