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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Space Agency Teams With Arms Exporter

The cash-strapped Russian Space Agency clinched a cooperation agreement with major arms exporter Rosvooruzheniye on Wednesday in an attempt to boost sales of rocket launches and satellite services abroad.

The accord "will allow us to supplement" the national space industry's exports, agency general director Yury Koptev told reporters after signing the accord with Rosvooruzheniye chief Grigory Rapota.

"Time will show how large this supplement may be," Koptev added.

The Russian Space Agency supervises most of Russia's space industry, while Rosvooruzheniye accounts for some 90 percent of Russia's arms exports and maintains 35 offices abroad.

Neither Koptev nor Rapota would give any estimates of what financial profits their cooperation may generate.

Koptev only noted he hopes Russia's space industry will be able to expand its international sales from some $880 million last year to $1 billion.

However, this figure would still be dwarfed by what U.S. space companies earned last year, which the Russian space chief said was $50 billion.

A Rosvooruzheniye official, who asked not to be identified, said his company may help the space agency to clinch an export deal in the next two months or so, but would not elaborate.

Koptev said Rosvooruzheniye will help Russian space companies provide services to the armed forces of foreign countries, which he said would give the sales added legitimacy and fend off objections by the U.S. government.

Washington has already slapped sanctions on more than a dozen Russian defense and space industry firms for their alleged cooperation with countries developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapon programs.

U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration has threatened to reduce the quota of launches of U.S. satellites by Russian rockets if Moscow fails to crack down on sensitive technology leaks to Iran and other countries.

Koptev said his agency may also soon reach a deal with state-owned company Rossiiskiye Tekhnologii, which mediates sales of military technologies.

Another aim of Wednesday's agreement is to avoid rivalries by defining which agency will mediate sales of which products on the international space market, Koptev and Rapota said.

Koptev said the space agency is performing well enough in the satellite launch market while Rosvooruzheniye can help boost sales of services on Russian satellites and of space-related products manufactured by military plants.

Rosvooruzheniye's successful mediation of the 1998 launch of Swedish satellite Astrid II by Russia's Strategic Missile Forces was one reason the space agency sought a deal with the arms exporter, Rapota said.