02:46 GMT +320 November 2019
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    A Proton-M rocket of the International Launch Services (ILS), carrying the EchoStar XVI satellite, blasts off from the Russian leased Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome (File)

    Ad Astra: Russian Fund Eyes Launching Satellite Into Orbit From Saudi Arabia

    © AFP 2019 / STR
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    Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin announced earlier this year that Russia and Saudi Arabia had created a space cooperation programme under which the two sides floated the idea of Moscow sending a Saudi astronaut into space for a short-duration flight.

    While space and high technology are known to be among the key areas for cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), has revealed that their joint work may result in an "exciting project to launch a satellite from Saudi Arabia into orbit using interesting Russian technologies".

    Russian vehicles have been putting Saudi satellites into orbit since 2000. Roscosmos and Saudi King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) have also been working together on space exploration and the use of the GLONASS navigation system.

    Moscow has also considered the possibility of using the territory of the Kingdom as a potential location to host an optical station for an automated warning system that would track possible dangers in near-Earth space.

    Energy Sector Cooperation with Saudi Aramco

    Dmitriev also stated that Saudi companies are interested in technology from Russia's Transneft oil transportation company, while Russian investors are looking into Saudi Aramco's initial public offering (IPO) on the stock market.

    "Undoubtedly, there is potential for technological cooperation because a number of Transneft's technologies are of interest to Saudi Aramco and a number of other Saudi companies ... We are sure that Transneft will cooperate here in technology, but there might be other opportunities as well", he said.
    A picture taken on September 15, 2019 shows an Aramco oil facility near al-Khurj area, just south of the Saudi capital Riyadh.
    © AFP 2019 / FAYEZ NURELDINE
    A picture taken on September 15, 2019 shows an Aramco oil facility near al-Khurj area, just south of the Saudi capital Riyadh.

    The Russian company transports 83 percent of oil extracted in the country, operating over 68,000 kilometres (42,253 miles) of trunk pipelines. The Saudi oil giant, who is considering cooperating with Transneft, announced its plans for an IPO in 2016 as part of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 economic overhaul programme.

    According to various reports, the Kingdom expects the IPO to value Saudi Aramco at around $2 trillion, which would allow the company to raise as much as $100 billion of a listing of just a 5 percent stake.

    Putin's Visit to Riyadh

    According to the head of the RDIF, President Vladimir Putin will discuss the perspectives for the OPEC+ deal during his official visit to the country. Dmitriev previously said that Moscow and Riyadh would soon announce new agreements worth over $2 billion.

    The Russian president is visiting Saudi Arabia two years after he hosted negotiations with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Moscow. The talks in Riyadh will be held on the backdrop of an RDIF-organised cultural programme in the country, which will include numerous events, promoting Russian theatre, cinema, modern art, and tourism.

    Tags:
    Vladimir Putin, space cooperation, Space, Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, Roscosmos, Saudi Arabia, Russia
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