Russia, China to sign cooperation deal on Moon exploration

Russia and China will sign a space cooperation program for 2018-2022 in autumn to jointly explore the Moon and conduct the Earth’s remote probing, Glavkosmos space launch operator told TASS on Thursday.

"Work is nearing completion with the direct role of Glavkosmos to draw up a program of Russian-Chinese space cooperation for 2018-2022, which should be signed in the autumn of 2017," the company said.

lavkosmos is the coordinator and the contractor for a portion of the works in this program.

As Glavkosmos explained, cooperation with Chinese partners envisages the following areas: the exploration of the Moon and outer space, space vehicles and ground infrastructure, hardware components and materials, the Earth’s remote sensing data.

Glavkosmos is also working with Chinese commercial partners on the issue of holding experiments aboard the International Space Station and providing the data of the Earth’s remote sensing from Russian satellites, the company said.

Apart from China, Glavkosmos is also considering the possibilities of space cooperation with India, Brazil, South Africa, Nicaragua, Myanmar, Chile, Peru and Armenia and their involvement in Russian projects, the company said in its annual report.

Specifically, Glavkosmos is holding preparations in Brazil for a tender for the delivery of space images to that country.

It was reported earlier that China was interested in buying the world’s most powerful Russian-made RD rocket engines produced by Energomash while Russian Space Systems showed interest in Chinese electronic components.

Russia and China are also working on making their GLONASS and BeiDou navigation satellite systems mutually complement each other and on installing adjusting ground-based stations on the territory of each other.

Besides, Russia and China are working within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) format to create a unified system of the Earth’s remote sensing.
International cooperation

As Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Andrei Ionin said, Russia needs to look more actively for international partners to develop space projects.

"Building international partnership is, perhaps, the main strategic task for the entire Russian cosmonautics today. This is because the technological revolution, first of all, in micro-electronics, has made it possible from the viewpoint of investments the creation of space systems consisting of dozens and even hundreds of Earth remote sensing or communications satellites whose commercial success requires work on the markets, and also considering that the next stage of piloted flights is related to movement outside the bounds of the near-Earth space, which will require a sharp increase in expenditures on outer space," he told TASS.

According to the expert, broad and versatile international cooperation in the current situation is seen as a solution for Russian cosmonauts as it will help unite participants’ technological competences and their markets, share risks and expenses.

"Moreover, the international status of a project is practical and insurmountable protection from the Finance Ministry’s regular attempts to sequester space programs," the expert said.

In his opinion, considering the Western sanctions imposed on Russia, new potential partners should include, in the first place, BRICS countries and also, possibly, Indonesia, the UAE, Vietnam, Iran and others.

"In this context, the agreements for the period until 2022 between Russia and China, which has both the competences and the resources and the vast internal market, are a move in the right direction but, considering the scope and the severity of the problems and tasks faced by our space industry, a move that displays little initiative, is too cautious, insufficiently large in scope and extremely slow," the expert said.
Glavkosmos

The space launch operator Glavkosmos was established in 1985 in the USSR Ministry of General Machine-Building. The company engaged in the space rocket industry’s foreign economic activity, organized and held researches and participated in the work to convert defense enterprises to civil output.

Today Glavkosmos participates in the implementation of contracts for the launch of Soyuz rockets from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, organizes foreigners’ flights to the International Space Station and cooperates with India and China in the space sphere.

The Russian government wholly owns Glavkosmos.

It was reported earlier that Glavkosmos got the status of an authorized operator of Soyuz-2 carrier rocket commercial launches from Russian cosmodromes.

Apart from this, Glavkosmos has received the exclusive rights to distribute images received from Russia’s Kanopus-V and Resurs-P Earth’s remote sensing satellites on foreign markets.

In 2017-2018, Glavkosmos plans to act as the operator of the launches of over 100 commercial micro-satellites as an additional load while orbiting three satellites under Russia’s federal program. Of this number, 72 satellites were launched from the Baikonur spaceport on July 14. Another 40 satellites are planned to be launched from the Vostochny space center in the Russian Far East at the end of the year.

Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos announced in May that Glavkosmos and Kosmotras had set up a joint operator for the launch of spacecraft by Soyuz-2 and Dnepr carrier rockets from the Russian spaceports. The new operator was named Glavkosmos Launch Services (GK Launch Services). Glavkosmos holds 75% and Kosmotras 25% in the new operator.

Cuba to revive mining sector with new lead and zinc mine

A new lead and zinc mine in northwestern Cuba is on track to start production in October as part of the Caribbean island's attempt to revitalize its mining sector, said a representative from Emincar, the government-backed mining company overseeing the project.

While nickel exports are already one of Cuba's main foreign currency earners, the cash-strapped country has untapped potential in other mineral deposits, according to the US Geological Survey.

The $278 million Castellanos mine will produce 100,000 tons of zinc concentrate and 50,000 tons of lead concentrate annually, said executives at Emincar, the joint venture between Swiss-based commodities giant Trafigura and Cuban state firm Geominera.

"We are reviving the small and medium-size mining sector in Cuba from this investment," said Justo Hernández Pérez, Emincar's deputy general manager, during a visit from foreign journalists to the mine in the province of Pinar del Rio.

Many mines, including a gold mine at the site of the new Castellanos mine, were abandoned in the 1990s and 2000s in the wake of the fall of Cuba's then key ally - the former Soviet Union, and the collapse of the economy.

"We are now exploiting the deposit below oxide cap," said Emincar general manager Jose Vila, noting that it could prove profitable once more for gold mines there.

The Castellanos mine holds reserves for 11 years of exploitation, while the nearby Santa Lucia deposit has enough for another 10 years, Vila said. Emincar will go on to exploit that deposit, tweaking its factory accordingly, once the Castellanos mine is exhausted.

In its annual investment portfolio released late last year, Cuba published dozens of opportunities for foreign investors to explore, exploit and commercialize precious metals, base metals and other minerals of interest.

Cuba hopes foreign investment will boost its economy, which managed to climb out of a recession in the first half of 2017. The island is under severe strain due to lower exports and a drop in cheap oil shipments from ally Venezuela.

  • Published in Cuba

Gutierrez saves Cuba’s semifinal hopes

Miguel David Gutierrez was once again the driving force in Cuba’s success at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship. In their last match of the second stage of the tournament, the Cubans claimed a hard-fought 3-1 (25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 27-25) victory over China to keep alive their chances for making the semifinals.

Gutierrez hammered out 24 points to become the best scorer of the match. His teammate Miguel Angel Lopez and China’s Yuantai Yu were next on the chart with 20 points each. After China’s out-of-this-world blocking performance on Wednesday, on Thursday it was their opponents who defeated them with their own weapon – 14 kill blocks, with Jose Israel Masso responsible for as many as six.
The match started well for China, but between the two technical time-outs Cuba came back from behind to take the lead and cruise on to a 25-21 win. The Cuban spikers became even more efficient in the second set to keep their team in the lead, but the Asian squad made sure to stay close behind – 25-23 in favour of Cuba. The Caribbean team reached match point at 24-23 in the third set, but the Chinese reacted with three in a row to take the set and stay alive. They saved three more set points for Cuba in the fourth set, but on the fourth one they surrendered against the double block of Javier Octavio Concepcion and Miguel David Gutierrez.
  • Published in Sports

South Korea Orders Probe into Extra, Undisclosed US THAAD Missile Launchers

Since its deployment in March, the missile defense system has caused controversies both inside South Korea and abroad.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered a probe into the presence of four additional launchers for the controversial U.S. THAAD anti-missile system in the country as the Defense Ministry failed to inform the new administration, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

RELATED: South Koreans Protest US THAAD Anti-Missile System as Installation Starts

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was initially deployed in March in the southeastern region of Seongju to counter the perceived growing North Korean missile threat. 

“The president was briefed on the fact that four THAAD launchers, in addition to the two deployed in Seongju, have been brought into the country,” Yoon Young-chan, chief presidential press secretary, said.

Yoon said Moon confirmed the information with Minister of National Defense and said it was "very shocking."

Moon had ordered an investigation into “how the launchers were brought here, who decided on it, why the ministry kept it secret and why it did not report the fact to the new government," Yoon added.

A ministry official denied the accusations, saying Wee Seung-ho, deputy minister for policy, had briefed Moon's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong on the issue Friday. Moon’s office refuted the statement, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. 

During his successful campaign for the May 9 presidential election, Moon called for a parliamentary review of deployment of the system, a decision made by his predecessor Park Geun-hye to help counter North Korea's missile threats.

In another controversy, U.S. President Donald Trump said last month that South Korea should pay for the US$1 billion defense system. The government then said according to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), South Korea provided the site for the anti-missile system and other infrastructure while the U.S. would bear the cost of deployment and operation.

Local residents protested against the system, concerned that Seongju will become a primary target for North Korean missiles.

Neighbouring China also has been infuriated by the deployment of THAAD, arguing that the radar of the system could be used to spy in its territory and that it’s a threat to its national security.

In a meeting with Seoul's envoy to China Lee Hae-chan on Friday, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi said China "hopes that South Korea can respect China's major concerns (and) appropriately resolve the THAAD issue," the official Xinhua news agency reported.

  • Published in World

Group Thought to Be Behind NSA Tool Leaks Threatens New Round of Spy Tools

The NSA used the Microsoft flaw to build a hacking tool that ended up in the hands of a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers.

A group that has taken credit for leaking NSA cyber spying tools — including those used in the recent WannaCrypt global ransomware attack — has threatened in a blog it is believed to have authored to release more recent code to enable hackers to break into the world's most widely used computers, software and phones.

Using trademark garbled English, the apparent ShadowBrokers communique promised that, starting next month, it will begin releasing tools on a monthly basis to anyone willing to pay for access to some of the tech world's biggest commercial secrets.

It also threatened to dump data from banks using the SWIFT international money transfer network and from Russian, Chinese, Iranian or North Korean nuclear and missile programs, without providing further details. "More details in June," it promised.

"ShadowBrokers are back" tweeted Matthieu Suiche, a French hacker and security researcher who has tracked the group. Among the notable claims, he said, was that it had newer exploits for Microsoft's Window 10 operating system dating from after 2013.

The NSA used the Microsoft flaw to build a hacking tool codenamed EternalBlue that ended up in the hands of a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers, which then published that and other such tools online. 

  • Published in World

China and the U.S. Advocate for Greater Bilateral Coordination

Chinese president Xi Jinping and his U.S. peer, Donald Trump, agreed today over the telephone to increase coordination in global issues.

Both discussed bilateral links and the situation in the Korean peninsula and committed to keep a close contact through several channels and exchange perspectives on the main issues of common worry.

Xi emphasized that China firmly opposes any action that violates resolutions of tyhe UN Security Council and expressed his trust that the parties involved exercise contention and prevent taking steps that heighten tension in the península.

He also advocated for the parties to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as soon as possible in a peaceful way.

He affirmed China is ready to work and do everything possible with all parties involved, including the United States, to materialize peace in the Korean península, Northeast Asia and the whole world.

He recalled the important consensus reached with Trump during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, previously this month and indicated that both have kept a very good communication recently, obtaining the positive evaluation of the Chinese and U.S. peoples and the rest of the international community.

With a quick change of the international situation, it is very necessary that China and the United States to maintain close contact and exchange points of view on important issues in an opportune manner, he considered.

He advocated that the two biggest world powers implement the consensus achieved between both nations and consolidate the thrust of a stable development of bilateral links.

The Chinese president also called the work teams of both territories to strengthen coordination on a good preparation of the visit of Trump to China this year and the prompt opening of the bilateral four-way dialogue mechanism, which includes the areas of foreign affairs and security; economy; application of the law and cybersecurity; and social and personal exchanges, as an important result of the meeting between Xi and Trump in Florida.

In the same way, the leader of the Asian giant called on Beijing and Washington to promote the economic and comercial cooperation, expand the exchange in the military field; the application of the law; Internet and interpersonal exchanges, strengthen communication on the main global and regional issues and promote China-U.S. relations to continue achieving new progress.

For his part, Trump described as very good his meeting with president Xi in Mar-a-Lago and expressed his satisfaction over the development of relations between both countries.

He considered relevant to keep in close contact and coordination over the main issues.

He calle don Xi to meet again in the short term and exposed his will to visit this country.

  • Published in World

China Pleads for Unity, Prosperity and Stability in European Union

Chinese prime minister, Li Keqiang, advocated for unity, prosperity and stability of the European Union (EU), it transcended here today.

Meeting this Tuesday with the EU representatives for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vicepresident of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, insisted on the importance given by Beijing to relations with the EU, as well as the EU commitment to comply with its international obligations.

According to the official media, Li asked to work with the EU with a spirit of mutual respect and reciprocal treatment to advance in conversations on the treaty of bilateral investment and in the viability study of the free trade agreement.

We will work with the EU to approach differences in an adequate manner and improve relations China-EU inside the international order based on norms and contribute with vitality to world economic growth, declared the prime minister.

He asked both China and the EU, to adhere the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter before the complex and changing panorama.

In the Chinese leader's opinion, both parts should send a positive signal to maintain regional stability and world peace, face global challebnges, reform and improve international governance and defend economic globalization and free and just trade to face the uncertainties of the world scenario through stable cooperation between China and the EU.

Mogherini,for her part, consiodered that the EU and China share the responsibiluity of maintaining international order, face global challenges as terrorism, cluimate change and promote world peace and development.

She also stressed that for the EU is vital to maintain the multilateral system and comply with its international obligations.

She asserted that the EU will work with Beijing to strengthen cooperation, tackle adequately the differences and facilitate the progress in negotiations of the treaty on bilateral investments.

  • Published in World

‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns US against attacking North Korea

China has warned the US against using military force against North Korea, after a surprise redeployment of an aircraft carrier group. Washington’s regional allies said they expect it to consult with them before any action.

Tension is mounting in the region as US President Donald Trump said he would solve the “North Korean problem” with or without China’s help. The warning came amid the diversion of the aircraft carrier group ‘USS Carl Vinson’ to the Korean Peninsula and a week after Trump ordered the US Navy to fire a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase as punishment for an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province.

 
FILE PHOTO: The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. © U.S. Navy Photo

Responding to US belligerence, Beijing called against using force against Pyongyang.

“Military force cannot resolve the issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”

An editorial in the influential newspaper Global Times, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’ People’s Daily, said the situation on the Korean Peninsula could not be compared to that of Syria.

“Taking military actions against North Korea is much more risky than launching a missile strike on Syria. Pyongyang is able to deal a heavy blow to South Korea. Regardless of Pyongyang's nuclear capability, a radiological dispersal device, or a ‘dirty bomb,’ if thrown on the South, will cause nuclear pollution, which will be unbearable to this US ally,” the newspaper warned.

The paper said Washington needs to accept the reality that it “has no power to put global affairs in order at the moment” and work with other leading world powers on the Korean situation through the UN Security Council, a body that the US has shun by the unilateral attack against Syria.

US allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, have both asked Washington to consult with them before taking military action against Pyongyang. Both countries station thousands of US troops on their territories.

The escalation comes as North Korea prepares to celebrate the birthday of its late leader Kim Il-sung on Saturday, which is a state holiday called ‘Day of the Sun’. Pyongyang has a record of timing demonstrations of military strength to the date, as many observers say it might to so this year to test Trump’s resolve.

A Washington-based think tank, 38 North, claimed on Wednesday that satellite images of the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site indicated an imminent new test. South Korean officials disagreed, saying no new activities were evident, but added that a sixth test may be conducted at any time.

  • Published in World
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