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Russia-APR: Space Partnership

Space technologies that are used today to take on economic and political tasks in the context of integration processes unfolding across the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) are among high priorities for Russian foreign policy. Space activities and the practical application of their results help address energy, information, food, and other issues confronting the world community, contribute to environmental protection, help use natural resources in a rational manner, mitigate the aftereffects of natural disasters, and do dozens of other jobs.

The significance of Russia’s space capacities in the Asia-Pacific derives from Russia’s involvement in world politics and economics that, in turn, is influenced by its geographic position giving it added weight in the world community. Signs of this are recognized in its growing ties with ASEAN countries, its attendance of East Asian summits, the Asia-Europe dialogue, and, certainly, its chairmanship in the APEC Summit in 2012. Official statements by top government figures in Asian countries acclaim repeatedly Russia’s role as guardian of military and political stability and sustainable development. In an article headlined "Russia’s Policy in the APR: For Peace, Security and Sustainable Development” for the Indonesian Strategic Review journal, Russian Foreign Minister S.V. Lavrov mentioned space exploration as a hi-tech area of economic cooperation in which Russia has an unchallenged edge.1

Another article, "Integrate to Grow, Innovate to Prosper” by Russian Prime Minister D.A. Medvedev, published in January 2012 sets guidelines for Russia’s cooperation with APEC economies to be followed in the short term. These guidelines include liberalizing trade and investment policies, maintaining food, energy, and environment security, improving transportation logistics, cooperating in education and human potential development, protecting intellectual property rights, and fighting transnational crime and terrorism.2 Cooperation in the space industry, such as construction of launch facilities in the Republic of Korea and a space launch center in Indonesia, manned space flight programs in Malaysia and Japan, commercial launch services in Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, to give just a few examples, is usually put in a long-term perspective for understandable reasons.

First, Russia has become the last APR country to be admitted to WTO and, therefore, views trade liberalization as its top priority. Russia’s WTO membership will inevitably contribute to its regional economic integration. Meanwhile, problems that prevent it from enjoying its full WTO membership and entering into free trade agreements are a barrier to the promotion of Russian technologies, their entry into the world market, and, by implication, to the commercialization of Russian space-related products and services.

Second, Russia’s geographic position is a reason for it to be considered a multimodal transportation hub for APEC. Its specific position gives it a great transit potential and creates prospects for the construction of transcontinental roads to stimulate international trade and expand economic cooperation between the European Union, APEC, and the Americas. Russia’s cooperation with ASEAN countries is an important factor contributing to Asia-Pacific integration as its improved connectivity helps close the gap in its members’ economic development. The need to improve transportation infrastructure monitoring in order to increase its efficiency and security adds a further incentive to develop satellite navigation systems.

At present, Russia has intergovernmental agreements with several APR countries on cooperation in exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. In the case of the U.S. and Canada, it is basically operation of the International Space Station program. An agreement with India implies an active cooperation in the use of the Russian GLONASS global navigation satellite system. Within the framework of cooperation with Malaysia, three satellites have been launched by Russian carrier rockets, in addition to a manned space flight program. A medium-term plan for cooperation between Russia and Indonesia in several joint space projects has been adopted for the period 2011 to 2015. These projects include development, orbiting, and operation of the Telkom-3 telecommunications satellite system; the groundwork for the Air Start project to develop a mixed aircraft-rocket system for launching lightweight rockets and communications satellites; joint monitoring of the circumterrestrial space, detecting hazardous celestial objects and space litter and measuring space vehicle trajectories; and cooperation in space navigation, in particular, setting up a joint enterprise to manufacture satellite navigation equipment.

An integrating function in space activities in the Asia-Pacific Region is carried out by the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) and the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF). The first organization established at China’s initiative to expand cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space develops joint space-related programs and assists in research and application of space technologies. Russian representatives attended the founding ceremony in an observer capacity, but the organization does not directly cooperate with Russia in research and development.

The second organization was established by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to combine the space research potentialities of the region’s countries in the cause of common security, largely to forecast emergencies and remedy their consequences. The APRSAF’s key project, Sentinel Asia, is intended to monitor natural disasters from space using GIS (geographic information system) technologies and the Internet. Data beamed down from Japanese, South Korean, Indian, and Taiwanese satellites are picked up by decision-making regional centers to respond rapidly to the occurrence of natural disasters – floods, fires, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and other natural calamities, around 75% of which take place in the APR. Over 60% of all active above-sea volcanoes on Earth are strung along the Pacific volcano rim that requires constant monitoring. The project is, therefore, designed to increase the number of satellites, ensure a better data availability, produce analytical images to enhance the accuracy of forecasts, and expand the satellite database of natural disasters in the region. APRSAF also runs educational programs for children and stimulates research activities similar to those conducted by Western space agencies.

In parallel with APRSAF, the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) responsible for restoring infrastructure in the wake of natural disasters and supporting sustainable development in APRSAF member countries was set up, at Japan’s initiative again, in 1998. Significantly, the two organizations cover much of continental Asia and have South Asian countries among their members, even though they are outside the APR and are not members of other international organizations that could help them upon the occurrence of natural disasters.

China and Thailand, both members of all organizations listed above, are also involved in the international Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) that lacks a developed ground infrastructure and serves mostly to mitigate the consequences of major natural disasters or man-made catastrophes, rather than to forecast them.

On the global scale, an International Global Monitoring Aerospace System (IGMASS) is now under development to give the world community a timely warning of impending natural disasters and put measures in place to overcome their consequences. IGMASS is particularly needed in the absence of an efficient system for short-term forecasting of emergencies and for distant training by making every possible use of the international aerospace potential.

Emergency monitoring systems used in Russia rely on GLONASS and GPS (Global Positioning System) and remote sensing systems to survey the ground from space with high time and space resolution. Given the foreign policy factor and vital role of Russia’s Asian part, the Federal Space Agency supports Russia’s participation in all international monitoring systems discussed above to be able to use data gathered by space vehicles of foreign space agencies, specifically NASA (U.S.) and JAXA (Japan), as well as data collected by its own space vehicles developed for similar monitoring purposes.3 In an effort to protect the environment, APEC conducts discussions on the uses of space technologies for the needs of the fishing industry and preservation of marine ecosystems, in particular, development of satellite systems to monitor coral reefs (raised by Indonesia, the initiative was sponsored by Russia, China, and the U.S.), oil pollution of the ocean surface, and the effect of climate change on marine bioresources and fisheries.

Cooperation in education in the APR is overseen by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) established in 1997 and consisting of 42 universities of the region’s 16 countries. Russia is represented in APRU by the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), the oldest and biggest educational institution in the Russian Far Eastern region, that is used today to build the infrastructure for the upcoming APEC Summit. To spread knowledge about space and space technologies and services, the FEFU plans to set up a Space Services Center (SSC) for innovation and education that will take in the most recent findings of higher education institutions and research centers of APEC economies. The center will draw on the potentialities of the regional SSC and the REKOD geoinformation platform, both components of the information and analytical support for the region and both developed by the REKOD Research & Production Corporation, a leading organization and authorized representative of the Federal Space Agency in the use of space exploration results. Currently, space services centers of this type that collect, store, and transmit data promptly to end users on the basis of geoinformation and web portal technologies have been set up in many subfederal regions of the Russian Federation.

A greater proportion of the Russian space industry is in the country’s European part, too long a distance from Siberia and the nation’s Far Eastern areas for the Federal Space Agency to involve these regions in space cooperation with APR countries and use their communication potential with best effect. The problem will be solved, to an extent, by the construction of a space launch center, Vostochny, in Amur Region that will be used tentatively to launch automatic space vehicles of various designations and conduct manned space flight programs. As the new space facilities go into service, they will stimulate infrastructure development in the Far East, create new jobs, and, as a result, improve the socioeconomic situation in the region.

Construction of satellite communications and television systems is another area of space activities related directly to breakthroughs in regional integration. Indonesia is the first developing country in the region, and fourth in the world after the U.S.S.R., the United States, and Canada, to have deployed its own satellite system. From the outset, its satellite system provided TV services to Southeast Asia only. With the launch of new generation satellites, the system beamed its broadcasts across virtually all of Asia, from Japan to Pakistan. Growing cooperation between Russia and Indonesia in recent years is encouraged by interest shown by both countries in exchanging hi-tech products, above all using the GLONASS system for the needs of transportation, geodesy, construction, and monitoring of major engineering projects on Indonesian territory. Satellite navigation services are provided in the APR by the American global GPS-III system and several regional systems (Beidou in China, IRNSS in India, and QZSS in Japan) developed primarily for the owner countries’ needs and adaptable for deployment on the interregional level. In 2011, Russia officially completed full deployment of its GLONASS system, making it, by definition, global and comparable with GPS in accuracy, accessibility, and speed.

Legal aspects of joint development and interaction are turning into a major barrier to regional integration and effective bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the APR, in the first place, to joint large-scale projects such as the Russian-Indonesian Air Start project discussed above. Cooperation within the framework of this project is impeded by Indonesia’s failure to join the international Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that covers 34 countries, including seven countries of the region – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, the U.S., the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

Another example is cooperation in the region’s food and environmental security maintenance. In particular, jungle fires in Indonesia that produce smog floating across vast air expanses beyond Indonesia set off the start of negotiations that ended with the signing of an ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002, still to be ratified by Indonesia itself.

Even though a great majority of space-related projects are intended to serve peaceful purposes only, APR countries keep increasing their military budgets and are trying to use space exploration results to gain information advantage and control over interstate relations. This situation may become decisive in foreign policies developed by the region’s leading countries and dictate the need for additional obligations being assumed by parties entering into agreements on joint space projects.

An important point to make in conclusion is that efficient use of the APR space capacities for successful regional integration can only be made through close cooperation between national space agencies, ministries, departments, and enterprises of the APR countries’ space industries, and creating beneficial conditions for conducting joint business aimed at innovation and modernization in the interests of the region’s economic development.

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1. http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/newsline/98765029ECAB810B442579D70051A1ED

2. http://www.kremlin.ru/transcripts/14392

3. A.N. Perminov, G.G. Raikunov, Rossiyskiye kosmicheskiye sredstva i mezhdunarodniye sistemy preduprezhdeniya o chrezvychainykh situatsiyakh: perspektivy integratsiyi [Russian Space Vehicles and International Emergency Warning Systems: Prospects for Integration], Rossiyskiy kosmos, #1(49), 2010, p. 29.


Catégorie: Articles | Ajouté: Lim (27.09.2012)
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