Apr 292014

On Monday the U.S. State Department expanded its existing sanctions regime against Moscow, saying it will deny pending export license applications of defense articles and services that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities.

In addition, the State Department is taking actions to revoke any existing export licenses which meet these conditions.

“All other pending applications and existing licenses will receive a case-by-case evaluation to determine their contribution to Russia’s military capabilities,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an April 28 statement.

In March, as Moscow consolidated its hold on Crimea, the State Department suspended approval of defense exports to Russia, a move that could have an immediate impact on U.S. and European space hardware manufacturers and satellite fleet operators who launch spacecraft on Russian rockets.

U.S. export licenses are required to launch U.S. commercial communications spacecraft—or foreign satellites containing U.S. components controlled by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)—on Russian launch vehicles.

If the ban on issuing such licenses remains in effect, the impact would be felt most immediately by International Launch Services (ILS) of Reston, Va., and Sea Launch International of Nyon, Switzerland; ILS markets launches on Russian Proton vehicles, while Sea Launch manages flights on the Zenit launcher.

In addition, several upcoming launches on ILS Proton rockets could face delays if satellite manufacturers and fleet operators are denied export license approval before shipping spacecraft to the company’s launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

London-based Inmarsat is planning two launches this year of its Boeing-built Global Xpress mobile communications spacecraft atop ILS Protons. In addition, Luxembourg fleet operator SES is preparing for the launch this summer of its Astra 2G satellite, built by Airbus Defense and Space.

Space industry sources say the hold may also affect Soyuz launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, where launch consortium Arianespace manages commercial missions of the four-stage, medium-lift Soyuz.


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