Space: August 23, 2001


France plans to launch its two 4.1-ton Helios-2 spy satellites in 2004 and 2006, respectively. It had been assumed that France would use the Ariane-5 booster, and the European space consortium had quoted a price of $208 million for the launches. Russia then submitted an unsolicited bid of $143 million, under which it would ship Soyuz boosters to French Guyana and launch from there. This would avoid French concerns over sending the secret satellites into Russia. The French have agreed to examine the Russian bid in November, giving the European consortium time to think up a new bid of their own. What Russia wants is permanent access to the French Guyana space launch complex so it can win more commercial launch contracts.--Stephen V Cole


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