Russia, Kazakhstan may manage space base together

Feb 14, 2013 by Peter Leonard

(AP)—Russia may suspend its lease for some facilities at the Baikonur space complex in Kazakhstan, opening the way for its joint administration by the two countries, a senior Russian space official says.

The for satellite-deploying Zenit rockets at the complex will be the first facility to be reviewed, Roscosmos deputy head Sergei Savelyev told the Ivzestia newspaper in an interview published Thursday.

Baikonur is a sprawling complex in the remote south of the oil-rich Central Asian nation. It was the site of Yuri Gagarin's historic maiden flight to space in 1961 and holds 15 launch pads, including the one used by the , which remains the only transport available for —including American ones—traveling to the .

Statements from Kazakhstan about the complex had provoked speculation that it was seeking higher rental payments, but officials seem mainly intent on expanding the country's own .

Russia currently pays Kazakhstan $115 million annually to use the Soviet-built under a deal that expires in 2050. Russia spends $160 million per year operating the complex.

"I want to stress that there is no talk of Russia leaving Baikonur. New forms of cooperation are being worked upon," Savelyev told the Moscow-based daily.

While taking over partial management of facilities, Kazakhstan also wants training for its own space industry technicians, Savelyev said.

Roscosmos did not immediately respond to AP requests for more information.

Russia has bristled over what it perceives as obstructionism from Kazakhstan over Baikonur. Kazakhstan last year announced that it would allow no more than 12 launches in 2013 of the heavy-load Proton vehicle, less than the 14 hoped for by Russia. The limitation represents a grave threat to Russia's satellite-launching business.

"We asked them to reconsider the parameters laid out in the government decree of Dec. 28," Savelyev said. "Our partners in Kazakhstan are meeting us halfway."

Savelyev said officials from both governments will meet in March to work on a roadmap for future cooperation that would culminate with a new arrangement on Baikonur.

Kazakhstan space agency chief Talgat Musabayev laid out his country's vision in a meeting on Wednesday.

"By 2030, Kazakhstan should broaden its niche in the global space market and bring a number of ongoing projects to their logical conclusions," Musabayev said.

A keystone of those plans is the creation of the Bayterek launch pad at Baikonur. The slow progress and the spiraling costs of that operation have tested relations between the two countries.

Bayterek was intended to be used with the Angara booster rocket currently under development in Russia. But Moscow has indicated that its own Vostochny complex in the Far East, due to be completed in 2018, could be used for the Angara instead.

Explore further: Scientists study surface composition of asteroid 2004 BL86 during close flyby of Earth

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Kazakhstan mulls ending Russia's cosmodrome lease (Update)

Dec 10, 2012

The head of Kazakhstan's space agency said Monday that Russia's lease of a launch facility in the Central Asian nation, the only site worldwide currently being used to get astronauts to the International Space Station, may ...

Putin visits site of Russia's new launch center

Aug 28, 2010

(AP) -- Russia will launch its manned space missions from a new center in the Far East in 2018, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Saturday, as the country seeks greater independence for its space program.

Russia launches six US satellites

Feb 06, 2013

A Russian Soyuz rocket on Wednesday successfully launched six US telecommunications satellites from the Baikonur space centre Moscow leases from the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan.

Recommended for you

NASA engineer advances new daytime star tracker

8 hours ago

Scientists who use high-altitude scientific balloons have high hopes for their instruments in the future. Although the floating behemoths that carry their instruments far into the stratosphere can stay aloft ...

Image: Sounding rockets launch into an aurora

8 hours ago

The interaction of solar winds and Earth's atmosphere produces northern lights, or auroras, that dance across the night sky and mesmerize the casual observer. However, to scientists this interaction is more ...

Gully patterns document Martian climate cycles

9 hours ago

Geologists from Brown University have found new evidence that glacier-like ice deposits advanced and retreated multiple times in the midlatitude regions of Mars in the relatively recent past.

Europe to resume satnav launches in March: Arianespace

9 hours ago

Europe in March will resume satellite launches for its troubled Galileo navigation system, hoping to boost by at least six the number of orbiters this year, Arianespace and the European Commission said Wednesday.

The two faces of Mars

11 hours ago

A moon-sized celestial object that crashed into the south pole: ETH researchers use a simulation to demonstrate why Mars consists of two notably different hemispheres.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.