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Continuation of Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr program open to question

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Sept. 18, 2012, 10:52 a.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Interfax-Ukraine

Ukraine has received the conclusions by Russian experts who analyzed the technical and economic feasibility of continuing the joint space program on commercial satellites launches to the Earth orbit using the Dnepr rockets.
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Moscow – Ukraine has received the conclusions by Russian experts who analyzed the technical and economic feasibility of continuing the joint space program on commercial satellites launches to the Earth orbit using the Dnepr rockets, a source in military and diplomatic circles in Moscow told Interfax-AVN last week.

"Experts from Roskosmos and the Russian Defense Ministry, under their leadership's instructions have analyzed the possibility and expediency of the continuation of the Dnepr project. Their findings were handed to the Ukrainian side and the Kosmotras Company in early September," the official said.

He noted that in the case of the Dnepr rockets the major problem was financial. "Up to now, Kosmotras has been paid for the launch of a rocket a trifle - a few million rubles, while the cost of one launch was about 80 times higher. The difference was covered from the Russian budget," he said.

"The Ukrainian side has been offered new, but still, preferential conditions to start to pay an amount close to the cost [of a launch]. It's up to them to decide," the source said.

The Ukrainian-Russian-Kazakh space company Kosmotras specializes in converting RS-20 intercontinental ballistic missiles (the SS-18 Satan by Western classification) into Dnepr launch vehicles and uses them to put small satellites into orbit. Until recently, Dnepr rockets were launched from the Baikonur space center. At present, the Dnepr rocket is launched from a launch pad belonging to the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces' division in Orenburg region.

Seventeen Dnepr launches have been carried out since April 1999, including 12 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and five from Orenburg region.

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