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Russian Soyuz-ST rockets parts headed to Kourou

A detailed, 3d model of a Soyuz ST rocket. File photo.

ST. PETERSBURG (BNS): A special cargo ship carrying parts of two Russian Soyuz-ST rockets on Saturday left the port of St. Petersburg, heading to the Kourou space site, a media report said.

According to the RIA Novosti, Samara-based Progress design bureau has built Soyuz-ST rocket (modernized version of the Soyuz-2). These rockets are built specifically for launches from the Kourou space center in French Guiana, which is mainly intended for the launch of geostationary satellites.

Kourou 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 last year 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, it said.

The contract is estimated at $300-$400 million and stipulates at least three launches per year.

“The construction of the spaceport for Soyuz launches at Kourou is in its final stages and a supply tower is currently being assembled. The first launch of the Soyuz-ST rocket from Kourou is scheduled for April 2010.” RIA Novosti quoted Rene Pischel, head of the European Space Agency's (ESA) office in Russia as saying.

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