Russia’s space agency Roscosmos to issue bonds for mass satellite-building program

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Russia’s space agency will borrow up to 50 billion roubles ($710 million) in 2023 to fund a mass satellite-building program to catch up with the United States and China, the organization said on Tuesday.

Roscosmos said it would place publicly traded bonds on Russia’s financial markets throughout next year to boost its capacity to produce and launch satellites both for the Russian government and private companies.

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The space agency has this year launched a number of satellites into orbit, including for Russia’s GLONASS radio-based satellite navigation system - seen as a potential rival to US global position system (GPS) - and Iran’s Khayyam imaging satellite - a launch that raised fears in the West it could boost Russia’s military capabilities in Ukraine.

Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov said in an interview with the Vedomosti business paper on Wednesday that the organization planned to fund the building of two factories to produce satellites.

Russia currently produces around 15 satellites a year, Borisov said, far behind the United States and China.

“Elon Musk produces six spacecraft a day and plans to create as many as 42,000 satellites by 2022. China’s production capacity is over 500 satellites a year,” Vedomosti quoted Borisov as saying.

Borisov wants Russia to produce 200 to 250 satellites a year by the end of 2025.

Roscosmos is currently scrambling to find a solution to a coolant leak on its Soyuz spacecraft docked at the International Space Station that saw a planned spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts cancelled.

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