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France, Russia to sign deal on space rocket launch

France and Russia are due next week to sign an agreement to launch Russian Soyuz rockets from the European space centre in Kourou, French Guiana. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin is to sign the deal in Paris on November 5. The deal will allow Russian rockets to use the space centre in the French overseas department in South America to launch telecoms satellites into space.

The construction of a new launchpad in Kourou suitable for the Soyuz spacecraft is expected to cost the European Union 300 million euros. On October 6, the deal was provisionally agreed to between Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The Kourou agreement was one of the main topics of a meeting on Friday between Alyoshin and European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin.