The last 56 Russian specialists left the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana, TASS reports citing the press service of Roscosmos. Cooperation with European partners was suspended due to the Russian military operation on the territory of Ukraine.
“All Russian specialists left the Guiana Space Center, the last 56 employees of the Russian rocket and space industry who remained at the Kourou cosmodrome flew to Russia,” the press service noted. The first group of Russian starters and rocket specialists, consisting of 29 people, has already returned to Russia.
As Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of Roscosmos, noted, the state corporation, in response to EU sanctions, suspends cooperation with European partners in organizing launches from the Kourou cosmodrome and recalls its technical staff, including the consolidated launch crew.
The European Space Agency (ESA) also refused to negotiate with the Director General of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin. The negotiations were to discuss sanctions against the Progress rocket and space center and the head scientific institute of Roscosmos, TsNIIMash, as well as cooperation.
The Guiana Space Center is a European spaceport located near the city of Kourou in French Guiana. According to Roskosmos, its location near the equator provides a 15% advantage in payload compared to launches eastward from the American spaceport at Cape Canaveral and a 40% advantage in launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. In October 2021, Rogozin announced that Russia could transfer part of the rocket launches to the Kourou cosmodrome as part of the federal space program.
Russia launched a military operation in the Donbass on the morning of February 24. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR), whose sovereignty Russia recognized on February 21, asked for help from the country. Putin claims that Russia is not going to occupy Ukraine, but will seek “demilitarization and denazification” of the country. The United States and other Western countries condemned Russia’s actions and began to impose massive sanctions in response.