This center is part of the Russian Defense Ministry Space Troops. The center controls Russia's both military and civil space orbital groups and conducts work on the International Space Station.
Vladimir Putin arrived at the center a few minutes earlier than Mr. Chirac. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, head of the Federal Space Agency Anatoly Perminov and Space Troops Commander Vladimir Popovkin met the Russian head of state.
Then the Russian president went to meet his French counterpart. Cordially welcoming each other, the presidents went to the main hall of the test center to hear the report of the center's head, Lt.-Gen. Nikolai Kolesnikov.
The French president is the first foreign leader to visit the Center.
Before entering the hall, the leaders of the two countries examined two models of Earth artificial satellites. Mr. Putin told Mr. Chirac about them in English.
The Russian president drew his French counterpart's attention to the fact that both the big and the small satellites fulfill similar functions.
The creation of the Gherman Titov Main Center for Testing and Controlling Spacecraft is connected with the history of Russian rocket production, space science and technology, whose rapid development started after World War II. Now the Center is a unique complex of various multifunctional radio technical means and radio electronic equipment with a high degree of automation and exceptional accuracy of measurements, with the distance of actions reaching from several thousand to several hundred million kilometers.
The center solves the task to ensure launches of spacecraft while reinforcing orbital groups of space systems and complexes, launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, landings of descended apparatuses, reconnaissance and topographic provision.
The center also fulfills work on creating and using space reconnaissance and missile attack warning means.
Besides, the center's tasks include the use of a system of universal time and standard clock "Tsel" (Target), and time-and-frequency provision of the Russian Defense Ministry. The center also participates in holding flight tests and practicing the use of specimens of promising military and dual-purpose space means, as well as those launched in line with the Russian federal space program, international cooperation and commercial programs.
The center controls separate space apparatuses and the orbital group of social-economic and scientific purpose and space apparatuses launched in line with international cooperation and commercial programs.
Since the moment of establishment of the command-measuring complex, its experts have ensured the launch of and control over three thousand spacecraft. The center took part in the implementation of all joint international manned projects and projects of fundamental research of deep space, as well as national security-related space programs. In cooperation with representatives of over 150 organizations, scientific-research institutes, research and design bureaus and space centers, flight tests of over 250 types of military and social-economic purpose space apparatuses were held.
For its history, the command-measuring complex, later renamed as the Main Testing Center, carried out over 7,000,000 sessions of controlling spacecraft. The center is an association that ensures the control over 80% of Russian military, dual social-economic, and scientific purpose space apparatuses.
Since 2001, Lt.-Gen. Nikolai Kolesnikov has headed the Main Center.