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Russia accepts gradual withdrawal of Baikonur facilities out of lease: Vice Head of Russia’s RosKosmos Space Agency

14 february 2013, 14:25
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©RIA Novosti
©RIA Novosti
The agreement drafted between Kazakhstan and Russia over Baikonur envisages gradual shifting from the cosmodrome’s lease to Russia to joint use of the facility, Russia’s Izvestia.ru daily reports.

“The two presidents have decided to shift to new relations over Baikonur. The point is to gradually stop leasing space facilities to Russia and consider joint use of the cosmodrome. I want to emphasize it doesn’t mean Russia is leaving Baikonur. The two sides are working out new ways of cooperation”, Sergei Savelyev, Vice Head of Russia’s RosKosmos Space Agency said in an interview for Izvestia.

The two presidents met late last week. Following their talks a statement was issued that the two nations had agreed on Baikonur use.

“The core of the agreement is now clear (…) Russia has accepted Kazakhstan’s conditions: the anticipated agreement on Russia’s presence at Baikonur envisages gradual withdrawal of the cosmodrome facilities out of lease, followed with a shift to joint operation, involving professional training of Kazakhstan’s staff. In return, Kazakhstan doesn’t prevent Russia from launching Proton carrier rockets that enable Russia to hold leading positions in the global market of space launch services”, the newspaper cites Mr. Savelyev as saying.

“The number of Proton launches for 2013 is almost agreed upon; we are waiting for a formal document from the Kazakh side. We have asked the Kazakh Government to alter parameters specified in the decree as of December 28, 2012. The decree limits the number of Proton launches in 2013 to 12, which is short of Russia’s needs. The Kazakh side is ready to a compromise”, Mr. Savelyev said.

He emphasized that Kazakhstan wasn’t setting tough timeframes to terminate Proton launches from Baikonur. Earlier the two sides had agreed that Russia would gradually decrease the number of launches and close down the program by 2020.

“The first facility to be withdrawn from lease to Russia might be the launch pad accommodating Zenith carrier rocket launches. Kazakhstan reps had been considering replacing Angara carrier rockets with Zenith carrier rockets within the Baiterek project”, according to Mr. Savelyev.

Initially the Baiterek (“poplar tree”) space launch complex was supposed to be constructed at Baikonur by 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 had been postponed to 2017.

“The Kazakh side had been considering financial participation in the company that performs Zenith-assisted launches. Now Kazakhstan wants its specialists to be fully involved in preparation for and actual performance of such launches and anticipates parity in bearing expenses to maintain the complex”.

“We don’t have any limits to cooperation. We are ready to discuss new ways of cooperation (…) We have agreed that groups of Kazakhstan’s specialists can visit any Russian space industry enterprises (…) and we will accommodate trainings in whichever realms they feel it is necessary”.

Roskosmos officials also told that a permanent Roskosmos representative to the Russia’s embassy in Kazakhstan was being considered.

Tengrinews.kz reported earlier that December 28, 2012 the Kazakh Government had approved a schedule of Proton-M carrier rocket launches from Baikonur. The number was reduced from 14 in 2012 to 12 in 2013. Russia had been originally planning to carry out 17 launches.

Following the decision, a number of media reported that Russia and Kazakhstan might terminate space cooperation over restriction of the number of Russia’s launches from Baikonur. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s note read that the official Moscow would revisit its stance on further cooperation within joint projects.

However, January 25 when commenting on the note sent by his Ministry to Kazakhstan in relation to the reduced number of Proton carrier rocket launches from Baikonur, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “I wouldn’t tag the situation a dispute (…) There is nothing outstanding in exchange of notes. Exchange of notes is a regular practice on a wide range of issues that are likely to arise given the large scale of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia”.

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister supported his counterpart, saying that “there is no scandal, no sensation, no rows between Kazakhstan and Russia over Baikonur. I’ve seen many comments and keen interest of the media (…) misleading stories have been multiplied. I even saw some headlines stating that Baikonur is an apple of discord between Kazakhstan and Russia. I want to emphasize that nobody can have Russia and Kazakhstan having rows”.

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