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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Space Giants Ink Satellite Deal

MTAntonyuk, left, looking on as Medvedev speaks at the news conference on Monday.
National satellite operator Kosmicheskaya Svyaz and the Khrunichev space center have signed a cooperation agreement to boost the number of Russian satellites in orbit, as well as a separate contract to launch Khrunichev's first Dialog communications satellite.

The cooperation agreement, signed by the two state-owned enterprises Oct. 24, also aims to promote a number of other Khrunichev projects, such as the Yakhta satellite platform.

The Dialog satellite is being developed by the Khrunichev center and is scheduled to be launched early in 2003, Khrunichev director Alexander Medvedev said at a news conference Monday.

The 500-kilogram craft is equipped with 10 to 12 transponders, which receive and transmit signals.

The Dialog is to be launched using a "revolutionary" scheme, Medvedev said.

Normally, a satellite placed in geostationary orbit -- in which a satellite stays directly above a specific point on the ground -- is launched directly to about 36,000 kilometers above the Earth.

The Dialog, however, will be lofted to a low orbit on top of a lightweight Rockot launch vehicle -- an intercontinental ballistic missile converted by Khrunichev -- and then moved to geostationary orbit with the help of two engines.

Medvedev said this process will take about six months. It takes around seven hours to put a satellite in a similar orbit using a Proton rocket, Russia's most popular launch vehicle.

Neither Khrunichev nor Kosmicheskaya Svyaz would reveal the cost of the deal.

Industry experts have said that a Rockot launch normally costs between $10 million and $12 million, whereas a Proton launch costs upward of $60 million.

A small satellite like the Dialog is estimated to cost between $30 million and $35 million.

Kosmicheskaya Svyaz director Boris Antonyuk said that Khrunichev would cover the cost of developing the Dialog satellite, which Kosmicheskaya Svyaz would then buy and operate.

"The price [per transponder] offered by Khrunichev suits me," said Antonyuk, adding that he was confident there was a market for the coverage the satellite would provide.

"The revenues from this craft will be sufficient to pay the suppliers and producers, as well as to earn a bit of money."

Earlier this year, Kosmicheskaya Svyaz announced plans to set up a new $800 million network of seven satellites that would provide nationwide coverage.