Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin,
and Mr Yuri Koptev, Director-General of the Russian Aviation and Space
Agency, signed an historic agreement today for cooperation between the
two nations on space activities.

Senator Minchin said the
Agreement was a major step for Australia.

It declares our intention
to become a major player in the international space industry and consolidates
our position with Russia in the face of intense interest from a range
of other countries,” he said.

The Agreement also
consolidates the strong relations which already exist between our two

I am delighted to
welcome Mr Koptev to Australia to sign the Agreement.  Mr Koptev
has made a strong contribution to the space industry, most recently
in overseeing the successful de-orbit of the MIR space station. 
I look forward to working with him as Australia enters the exciting
launch market.”

The Agreement between the Government of the
Russian Federation and the Government of Australia on Cooperation in
the Field of the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peacefu Purposes
provides a framework for cooperation between the two countries
and addresses such matters as intellectual property, forms of cooperation,
relief from customs duty, liability and security of technology.

A number of companies are
proposing to establish space launch facilities in Australia, of which
two will use Russian launch vehicles.  The Asia Pacific Space Centre
project will represent the first dedicated commercial deployment of
a wholly Russian launch vehicle outside the Commonwealth of Independent
States.  The Spacelift project will represent the first deployment
outside of the CIS of the Start launch vehicle regulated under the US-Russian
START I Treaty.

This Agreement will
facilitate the start of proposed space launch projects by providing
for the transfer of information and technology between our two countries,”
Senator Minchin said.

The benefits of this
Agreement should not be underestimated.  Not only will the Australian
space launch industry directly benefit from the transfer of technology,
but, over time, the broader community will benefit through collaboration
with Russia in space-related research and technology development.

The industry is expected
to contribute up to $2.5 billion to the balance of payments through
till 2010 and to generate several thousand new jobs over the coming
decade.  As all of the proposed launch sites are based outside
of the major metropolitan areas, significant benefits will also accrue
to regional Australia.”

Contacts: Jennifer Eddy,
Minister’s Office(02 6277 7580)

Peter Morris, Department (02 6213 6490)