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    ROSKOSMOS ENCOURAGES PRIVATE RESEARCHERS' FLIGHTS TOWARDS LOWER LIMIT OF OUTER SPACE

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    MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov intends to encourage Russian companies that plan to organize sub-orbital flights towards the lower limit of outer space for private researchers.

    "Several Russian companies that are ready to organize this kind of flights have approached Roskosmos with a series of relevant proposals, and we are going to support them in every possible way," Mr. Perminov told a news conference.

    Mr. Perminov said Russia's Federal Space Agency was interested in retaining presence on the emerging sub-orbital flights market that has a bright outlook. "Restrictions in this sphere are no good," he said.

    Mr. Perminov also said Russia's main space harbor, Baikonur (in Kazakhstan), would be modernized extensively by its 50th anniversary in 2005.

    "Russia and Kazakhstan have decided to build a new launching site, Baiterek, together for new Angara boosters. The thorough modernization of the launching complex for Zenit boosters is also in plan," said Mr. Perminov.

    The modernization of "Gagarin's site" for launching updated Soyuz-2 rockets will be conducted at Baikonur soon. "The site has already been modernized at the Plesetsk space center and the first launch of an updated Soyuz-2 proved successful," said Mr. Perminov.

    Besides, Baikonur's complex for launching Tsyklon-2 boosters will be rebuilt to launch Tsyklon-4 spacecraft. "However, we do not know so far how talks with Ukraine's new leadership will proceed as Tsyklons are Ukrainian-made rockets," added the Roskosmos chief.

    Baikonur is the second most important space center in terms of the number of space launches.

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