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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Puts Its Satellites Up for Rent

Russia's satellites are for rent on a first-come-first-served basis, Russian officials said Tuesday. One of the first to come, the officials said, is a group of Canadian companies that will be using Russian satellites for its telecommunication network.

Minister of Communications Vladimir Bulgak announced at a press conference that Russia would expand its telecommunications network by launching a new generation of satellites and converting military ones to civilian use. Bulgak said 19 percent of the available channels could be leased to foreign companies.

One satellite communication channel would cost a foreign client $1 million a year, said Yury Kiyashev, head of the Space Communication Agency which operates the satellites.

Russian satellites are much cheaper than Western competitors, and are one of the few attractive Russian high-tech exports. Without foreign partners, however, Russians are not able to link up with international communications networks because they have been unable to produce some vital equipment, according to Mikhail Reshetnev, who heads one of Russia's largest satellite producers.

He announced that his company, the Scientific Production Association in Applied Mechanics in Krasnoyarsk, had signed an agreement with four Canadian companies and the Ministry of Communications to produce, launch and operate three telecommunication satellites, which will link Russia with North America and Europe from 1996.

ComDav, Spar Aerospace, Canadian Satellite Communications and General Discovery will provide transmission and battery equipment and funds for the project, Reshetnev said. The Russian partner will provide the satellites and launching pads.

Bulgak said other major companies, including the German firm DASA, have also shown interest in signing up.