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Kazakhstan and Russia may edge away from lease-based relations over the Baikonur cosmodrome

10 december 2012, 16:22
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Baikonur cosmodrome. ©RIA Novosti
Baikonur cosmodrome. ©RIA Novosti
Kazakhstan and Russian are working out a new agreement to gradually edge away from lease-based relations over the Baikonur cosmodrome, Newskaz.ru reports, citing Talgat Mussabayev, Head of KazKosmos National Space Agency as saying December 10.

“Head of State has set the task of working out a new agreement related to the Baikonur cosmodrome. The agreement may envisage edging away from lease-based relations between Russia and Kazakhstan over the Baikonur cosmodrome”, Mr. Mussabayev said when speaking in the country’s Majilis (lower chamber).

“We are not saying it may happen overnight (…) steps will be taken to gradually achieve the goal (…) Besides, Baikonur town may be transferred under the Kazakhstan’s jurisdiction. Never before has the issue been raised (…)”, he said.

“We are trying to agree on the terms. The Russian side doesn’t agree. We suggested 2015, however the suggestion isn’t OK with Russia (…) The two governments have decided to launch a special committee on Baikonur to be headed by Vice Prime Ministers, with Mr. Kelimbetov on the Kazakh side and Mr. Shuvalov on the Russian side”, he elaborated.

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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