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Major $2 billion boost to Russia's space industry

Staff writer |
Russia's new Vostochny Cosmodrome has booked its first high-profile commercial satellite launches as part of a contract worth more than $1 billion between Russian space agency Roscosmos and French and British space companies.

French space launch provider Arianespace announced it would purchase 21 Russian-built Soyuz rockets to launch between 650 and 720 microsatellites built by British firm OneWeb. The satellites will provide Internet services to all corners of the globe.

The news is a major boost to Russia's space industry, which has suffered a series of embarrassing launch failures in recent years.

The contract is the largest in commercial space history, valued at $1-$2 billion, according to SpaceNews. The first batch of 10 pilot satellites will be launched on a Soyuz rocket in late 2017. The remaining 20 launches will take place over 2017-19 and carry between 32 and 36 satellites each, SpaceNews reported.

Some of the rockets will take off from Russia's $3 billion Vostochny Cosmodrome, which is under construction in the country's Far East, a Roscosmos spokesman was quoted by TASS as saying Friday. The exact number of launches from Vostochny was not specified in the report.

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