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Russian Soyuz rocket to boost ESA’s Cheops satellite into space

The exact launch date is yet to be confirmed

MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. The European Space Agency’s Cheops satellite will be delivered to orbit by Russia’s Soyuz rocket, the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

"Soyuz rocket operated by Arianespace from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou will boost ESA’s upcoming exoplanet satellite into space," the statement reads.

The exact launch date is yet to be confirmed, the agency said adding that "the Cheops satellite is expected to be ready by the end of 2018 for shipping to Kourou, with all testing completed."

Apart from the Cheops satellite, the Soyuz rocket will also take another payload to orbit. The two will separate "into their own orbits soon after ascent."

Cheops - the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite - "will operate in a 700 km altitude orbit around Earth angled about 98· to the equator," the European Space Agency said.

According to the agency, "through high-precision monitoring of a star’s brightness, scientists will examine the transit of a planet as it passes briefly across the star’s face. This allows the radius of the planet to be accurately measured. For those planets of known mass, the density will be revealed, providing an indication of the structure."

"Cheops is an ESA mission in partnership with Switzerland and with important contributions from 10 other member states," the statement reads.

Cooperation between Russia, ESA

In 2016, assets of the French Arianespace company were arrested which put under threat cooperation between Russia and the European Space Agency (ESA) as the company was to make payments to two Russian space enterprises.

The assets were arrested after an application was filed by the Cypriot Veteran Petroleum company which used to be one of the three shareholders of the Russian Yukos oil company. The move came in connection with the ruling of The Hague arbitration court obliging Russia to pay $50 billion in compensation to former Yukos shareholders. Moscow does not recognize this decision.

In October 2016, Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation warned that it would stop the supplies of the Soyuz rockets until the French company pays €300 mln.

In February 2017, the arrest on Arianespace’s assets was lifted.