New Baikonur Head appointed

26 february 2014, 09:45
New Baikonur Head appointed - Assembly and testing block at Baikonour.
Assembly and testing block at Baikonour.
Russia’s Roskosmos National Space Agency has appointed Mikhail Vardanyan to head the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur cosmodrome, Interfax-Kazakhstan reports, citing the Agency’s Press Service.

“The decree to appoint him the new head came into force February 25”, the statement reads.

Evgeniy Anissimov, the ex Head of Baikonur cosmodrome, resigned mid-February “for personal reasons”. According to an unidentified source of, Mr. Anissimov was called to Moscow to meet Oleg Ostapenko, Head of Russia’s Roskosmos National Space Agency. He arrived for the appointment; however, there were no actual talks. Reportedly he was suggested to resign.

According to the source, Mr. Anissimov just happened not to fit in the new team of the Space Agency. There were no obvious reasons for his resignation: he had been working at Baikonur for over 30 years with no one filing any complaints about his job.

M. Vardanyan was born March 20, 1959 in Grozny. In 1981 he graduated from Mozhaisky Military Engineering Institute and in 1990 – from Dzerzhinsky Military Academy.

54-year-old Vardanyan has spent his entire career in the industry, including 30 years at the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur launch facility as a military engineer and manager, according to the statement on Roscosmos’ website.

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.

The town accommodates over 70 000 people, with 37% being Russia’s citizens. About 4 000 Russia’s citizens are here almost permanently on business trips to facilitate space launches. The town budget receives over 1 billion roubles ($28.8 million) a year from the Russian federal budget.

Russia’s Roskosmos Federal Space Agency spent over $33.3 million in 2012 to maintain infrastructure and space facilities at the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur cosmodrome, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported February 1, 2013, citing Yuzhny Space Center [the then head] Evgeniy Anissimov as saying.

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