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    MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Defence Ministry holds back the development of the project for orbiting satellites from the Ruslan-124-100 jumbo transport under the Air Launch programme, Sergei Mashurov, vice-president of the Russian Air Launch corporation, told RIA Novosti in an interview on Friday.

    "In 1998 the government allocated us four heavy long-haul machines Ruslan-124-100 to carry out the unique Russian project for orbiting satellites from an airborne plane of the Russian Air Force. After we invested over 30 million dollars in the repair and adaptation of two Ruslans, the Air Force command took a decision to pass them to Moscow as property with the following passing them to asset management by the private company Atlant-Soyuz", Mashurov said.

    This decision holds back the development of the Air Launch project, he said.

    "We proposed to pass them as state-run property to the Federal Space Agency. The government has decided on their Air Launch use and we will insist on it", Mashurov said.

    The Air Launch concept intends putting spacecraft weighing up to four tonnes into low-altitude orbits, 1.7 tonnes to geotransfer and 0.8 tonnes to geostationary orbits by Ruslan-124-100 jumbos.

    The project intends orbiting satellites in a wide range of altitudes from 200 to 20,000 kilometres and inclinations from equatorial orbits, including polar and solar-synchronous; putting satellites into high-elliptical orbits, including trajectories of flights to the Moon and planets of the Solar system. The Ruslan carrier aircraft ensures carrying the craft to the launch zone of the Polyot rocket-carrier with the further launch.

    The up to 4,000-kilometre-long flight of the rocket-carrier aircraft to the launch zone makes possible the launch of satellites along safe routes above the World Ocean.

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