Russia is planning the installation, organization and cooperative operation of two astronomical observation earth stations in Cuba.
A collaboration agreement in this regard was initiated in August of this year in Moscow, during the second working meeting of the Russian-Cuban group for collaboration in the field of science, technology and the environment of the intergovernmental commission of both nations.
On December 19, a seminar was held in Havana, between experts from the institutes of Geophysics and Astronomy (IGA) of Cuba and the Astronomy of the Academy of Science of Russia (INASAN), the Cuban News Agency reported.
Martha Rodríguez Urapsuka, director of the IGA, explained that in the meeting it was agreed to carry out an international project for the construction of the observatory in a place still to be determined in Cuba.
Previously, professionals from both entities developed astro-climatic and meteorological data in the country, with a view to laying the foundations for the assembly of the latest generation equipment.
The execution of the project, once approved, is scheduled for five years, with possible extensions.
It will reportedly allow the assembly in the country of two fully automated modern telescopes for making positional, photometric and spectroscopic observations of a wide class of astronomical objects from the Caribbean island, including monitoring potentially dangerous space objects, among them meteorites and cosmic garbage
In 2014, following a visit to Havana by President Vladimir Putin, Russia and Cuba agreed to reopen a Cold War era signals intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba, which was primarily used to spy on the US.
The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis to monitor radio and telephone communications in the US, just 155 miles away. Moscow shut it down in 2001 because it had no longer had any perceived use at the time for such a facility 6,000 miles away and also as a result of American financial pressure.
Once the Soviet Union’s largest such facility outside of its territory, the base was manned by about 3,000 military and intelligence personnel who intercepted signals coming from and to its “potential enemy”, the United States, and provided communications for Russian surface ships and submarines in the West. Later, part of its infrastructure was given to Cuba’s University of Information Technologies.
According to Russian media, Moscow began talks with Havana a few years ago with a view to reopening the facility, leading to questions about the real purpose of the new “astronomical observation earth stations”.
According to a senior US intelligence official, “Only an idiot would take this at face value.”