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Equipment at Baikonur will last for 10 years only

12 june 2012, 14:00
0
Baikonur cosmodrome. Stock photo of Tengrinews.kz
Baikonur cosmodrome. Stock photo of Tengrinews.kz
The equipment of the Baikonur cosmodrome can last for another decade, Newskaz.ru reports, citing the National Space Agency’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2015.

“According to the industry experts, within a decade the equipment will get obsolete in terms of technology (…) And it is not by accident that by this time Russia plans to build a cosmodrome of its own [Vostochny] in its own territory”, the document reads.

With Russia shifting to its new cosmodrome, Kazakhstan will rely on Proton-[carrier rocket] assisted commercial launches alone. Given that Proton carrier rockets run on highly toxic fuel, they are supposed to be replaced with more environmentally friendly Angara booster rockets to be launched from the would-be Baiterek (“poplar tree”) space launch complex, according to the document.

Tengrinews.kz had earlier reported that the Kazakh side is waiting for an official decision of the Russian Federation on the joint Kazakh-Russian project to construct the Baiterek (“poplar tree”) space launch complex for the Russia's new booster rocket, the Angara, at the Baikonur cosmodrome.

“The Russian side is obviously facing financial problems. The nation lacks funds to develop Rus booster rocket to be initially built for the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East. Therefore Russia is actively considering using the already developed Angara booster rocket at its Vostochny cosmodrome. Vostochny is to be completed by 2020. As it shares the same latitude with Baikonur, these two will be directly competing (…) Should a space launch complex for the Angara booster rocket be constructed in the Far East, it is no point for the Kazakh side to compete with its major strategic partner. And the Baiterek project may be terminated”, Vice Head of KazKosmos National Space Agency Mr. Meirbek Moldabekov said in an interview for Megapolis.kz in February 2012.

Initially the Baiterek (“poplar tree”) space launch complex was supposed to be constructed at Baikonur in 2013, following the testings of Angara booster rocket. In January 2011 construction of the launch complex was delayed to 2013. In July 2011 Vladimir Popovkin, Head of RosKosmos, announced that construction has been postponed to 2017.

Mid-April Tengrinews.kz reported, citing Russia’s RosCosmos Space Agency Vice Head Aleksandr Lopatin as saying for Russia’s Kommersant.ru, that “Cosmodrome Baikonur has been overstretched for the recent years”.

“Russia is responsible for 40% of all space launches in the world, with a lion’s share of the launches performed from Baikonur. The cosmodrome has been overstretched. We have to look for times to maintain the facility and get it properly ready for launches”, Mr. Lopatin said.

“Baikonur is rented from Kazakhstan. It is a unique facility enabling to accomplish the whole range of tasks. However friendly Kazakhstan may be, the facility is a rented one. It is a political issue. I don’t mean that Kazakhstan may abruptly “cut off the oxygen” for Russia (…) All leading space powers of the world do have cosmodromes of their own. Vostochnyi cosmodrome based in Russia to some extent will be duplicating functions of Baikonur in terms of sending payloads to all types of orbits … Vostochnyi cosmodrome will be capable of supporting all the Russia’s federal space projects, including defense projects”.

Baikonur is the first and largest cosmodrome in the world. Located in Kazakhstan, it is rented out to Russia till 2050.

Baikonur is closer to the Equator than other launch sites – a situation that facilitates geostationary orbit or orbits less inclined to reach the International Space Station (ISS). This privileged geographic placement enables the launch of more significant payloads.

The cosmodrome has been rented out since 1994. Annual rent stands at $115 million. $100 million is transferred annually to maintain the infrastructure.

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