Russian launcher for Integral
24 September 1999Russian Prime-Minister Vladimir Putin has signed agovernmental letter approving an arrangement between the European SpaceAgency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (RSA). According to thearrangement a Proton launcher will put ESA9s Integral, the InternationalGamma-RayAstrophysics Laboratory, into orbit. The spacecraft will be launched in 2001from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The Proton rocket will put the 4 tonne satellite into a high eccentric orbit around the Earth thereby minimizing the influence of the Earth's radiation belts and allowing uninterrupted observations of powerful Gamma-Radiation coming from distant objects in the Universe. The arrangement now ratified by the government of the Russian Federation regulates the details of the cooperation between ESA and RSA. The Integral Project Team was pleased to hear about the Russian Prime-Minister's signature. "It is a crucial step and two years before the launch of the spacecraft it came just in time", says Integral Project Manager Kai Clausen. Project Scientist Christoph Winkler says: "The Proton is capable to put Integral into an orbit which is crucial for the scientific success of the mission."
In exchange for RSA providing the launch by a Proton rocket, ESA will provide to the Russian Academy of Sciences access to and use of scientific data of the Integral mission. According to the agreement, now included in the Russian Federal Space Program are the works related to the manufacturing of the Proton launcher, the upper stage and the launch services, as well as the task of establishing a Russian scientific data center for the Integral Project. This work will be financed from the Russian Federal Budget.