LE BOURGET (France), June 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's space agency and French satellite launch firm Arianespace signed a contract for the first four launches of European satellites from the Kourou space center in French Guiana.
Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency, said at Le Bourget air show near Paris on Tuesday: "We have signed the first contract, which marks the first joint landmark in the use of Russian Soyuz rockets from a foreign launch pad."
The satellites are to be put into orbit by the Russian booster rocket Soyuz ST.
European Space Agency President Jean Jacques Dordain said that the first launch of a European satellite aboard a Soyuz ST is planned to take place before March 2009.
The Soyuz will have a separate launch pad near Sinnamari, a village ten kilometers (6 miles) north of the site used for the Ariane-5, the main European-made booster.
Kourou is intended mainly for the launch of geostationary satellites. Its proximity to the equator will enable the Soyuz ST to orbit heavier satellites than when launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and Plesetsk in northern Russia.