Soyuz launch base construction begins in French Guiana

The construction site for Russia's Soyuz launch base in French Guiana was officially opened, deepening collaboration between Europe and Russia in space, an Associated Press report said.

Quoting officials, the Associated Press report said the inaugural flight from the French South American department will occur at the end of 2008.  

The base will be used by two Soyuz spacecraft to carry communication, navigation and Earth observation satellites into space, the report said.

The Soyuz launchers will be able to carry up to nearly 3.3 tons of satellite from the base near Kourou, more than the 2 tons they can shuttle from Baikonur in Kazakhstan because the earth moves faster near the equator and that velocity will help hurtle heavier payloads into space, the report said.