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The Russian Troubles; Hopes For Untroubled Space Shipments; Trouble On The Spanish Main

  • July 18th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

esa-vehicle.jpgAs the Russian government considered a fresh jab at the West; Europe’s space program took one more step for mankind, and Spain grappled once again with the New World over pots of gold.


There was a pause in the latest bout of ill-will between European governments and Russia, while the leadership in Moscow considered its response to the expulsion of four of their diplomats (16.7.07) from the United Kingdom.

The British government was responding to Russia’s refusal to extradite a former security man, Andrei Lugovoi, accused of murdering Alexander Litvinenko, through radiation poisoning, in London last year, (see EUAustralia; “Opinion: Focus On Bush-Putin Duo …” 6.6.07).

According to the Moscow Times, the Russian Foreign Ministry was preparing a “targeted and appropriate” response.

“The official statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko was relatively reserved, and analysts downplayed the political and, in particular, economic harm from the standoff over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi,” it said.

The incident is one of several in the recent sharp deterioration in relations between Russia and the West (see EUAustralia; “Response To Putin …” 16.7.07).


The Moscow Times, “Russia Holds Back on Lugovoi reply” 18.7.07; (18.7.07)


Loading on board ship of the first new-generation, European space cargo-ships – the Jules Verne – started at Rotterdam (13.7.07) for the journey to its launching pad in French Guiana.

The 7.5 tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is set to go into space atop an Ariane 5 rocket, early next year; then will navigate under its own power to the International Space Station.

It will be carrying supplies including air, water, fuel and food, plus equipment and personal effects for the space station crew.

The ATV is a younger sibling to the large, piloted NASA shuttle orbiters (78-tonnes), but is the largest vehicle built by the European Space Agency.

It has cost €1.3-billion (A$2.045-billion; 18.7.07) to develop, with advanced, automated navigation and docking; and it’s expected to be the leading unit in a fleet of five or more.


European Space Agency, “ATV Starts Journey to Kourou” 13.7.07; (18.7.07)

BBC, “‘Jules Verne’ Set for Sea Voyage” 14.7.07; (16.7.07)

National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Space Shuttle; (18.7.07)


Spanish authorities on the weekend were searching the ship Ocean Alert, used by the American company Odyssey to recover a treasure in silver coins and gold objects from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

It was from the wreck of a 17th Century vessel found by the company, which will not give out its location.

The Ocean Alert was boarded off Gibraltar (13.7.07) and taken into port at Algeciras.

The Spanish government is initiating legal proceedings, saying it wants its share of the cargo, as the wrecked ship was likely to have been Spanish, or the treasure on board had been stolen from Spain.

The American salvors say the treasure valued at some $US 500-million (A$570.05-million) has been sent to the United States; they say it is legally theirs under international law on salvage at sea; and their ship’s detention by Spain was illegal.

They told Reuters on Tuesday they had been cleared to leave port.


BBC, “Spain Seizes Ship in Treasure Row” 14.7.07; (16.7.07)

Reuters, “US treasure hunters say boat set to leave Spain” 17.7.07; (18.7.07)

Picture: Loading the SVA in sections; ESA