Russia to keep using Kazakhstan's Baikonur despite constructing Vostochny cosmodrome: Russia’s Ambassador12 february 2015, 15:05
Russia will keep on using the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur cosmodrome despite constructing Vostochny cosmodrome in its own territory, Russia’s ria.ru reports, citing Mikhail Bocharnikov, Russia’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan, as saying.
The new cosmodrome, Vostochny, is being constructed in the village of Uglegorsk in Amur region. The first rocket is expected to be launched in 2015, to be followed by a manned spaceship in 2018.
The Ambassador reminded that the two nations had signed an agreement to rent the Baikonur cosmodrome to Russia up to 2050.
“Russia plans to use the cosmodrome despite constructing Vostochny. A special intergovernmental committee has been launched to solve all the related issues”, he said, adding that December 25, 2013, a Roadmap to ensure joint use of Baikonur for 2014-2016 had been signed in presence of the two national leaders.
Back in August 2014 the country’s media reported that Russia was intending to stop financing Baikonur starting from 2016. The decision was assigned to construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome. “In earlier budget drafts for 2016, around 2.5 billion roubles was supposed to be earmarked to finance Baikonur, notably maintain the facilities and pay salaries to the staff. However, the last draft presented to our representative in the Russia’s Finance Ministry, envisaged no financing. Which effectively meant no financing for an entire team of space specialists at the major cosmodrome. The reason behind the decision was construction of Vostochny cosmodrome”, Sergei Lazarev, Director General of the Russia’s Center for Use of On-ground Space Infrastructure.
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.