Spain terminates contract with Russian satellite company

Spanish company, Hisdesat, is terminating their contract with the Russian Kosmotras on the launch of the first Spanish satellite, Paz. One of the reasons for the termination of the contract, which was signed in 2013, is that Russia has not fulfilled their required obligations. This, according to DW, was said on the 20th of July by a spokesman for the Spanish Defense Ministry, which runs Hisdesat. According to him, “the Spanish satellite was ready to launch in late 2013 but has, since then, been gathering dust in the hangar”. The launch has been continuously postponed. The last time that the satellite was scheduled to launch was in December 2015.

“Russia has explained that bureaucratic reasons are to be blamed for their failure to comply with deadlines,” the representative said. He went on to say that the “initial launch had to be executed in 2014”. Last summer, Russia said that the Paz satellite has a “civil and a military purpose”. Hisdesat was then forced to sign another contract, this time with Rosoboronexport. However, this did not help to launch the satellite.

According to Deutsche Welle, “the real reason for the delays was the Russian-Ukrainian conflict” in the Crimea and in the south-east region of Ukraine. The Ukrainian carrier rocket, Dnepr, initially had to be used for the launch. This became impossible after Russia imposed a ban on Ukraine in April 2015 with regard to cooperation in the rocket production sphere.

The launch was supposed to cost Spain €18 million, of which €15 million has already been paid to Russia. This paid amount now has to be returned to Spain. “We want to solve the financial issue amicably,” the representative continued. If this cannot be done, Madrid will be forced to turn to the International Court of Arbitration. He went on to explain that “Spain cannot wait and intends to entrust another state with the launch. It is most likely that the contract will be given to Space X, a private American company which uses the Falcon rocket, even though this partnership may be a bit more expensive.

According to an employee of the Spanish Defense Ministry, the claims made against Russia with regard to the failures to launch “are not linked to any international ambitions of Spain and have no political overtones”. The truth is that space technology is rapidly becoming obsolete. Paz, whose construction by the Airbus Defense and Space company had cost €160 million, is designed to only function for seven years. The funds, which were provided by the state budget and by private investors, should be justified. In addition, contracts that Spain signed with third parties on the operation of the satellite in space have also been breached.

  Spain, Russia