Russia may stop financing Baikonur in 2016 04 августа 2014, 16:16
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Russian Finance Ministry might stop funding Baikonur cosmodrome in 2016, Tengrinews reports citing Izvestia newspaper. The amount of funding for Baikonur cosmodrome in the 2016-2018 draft federal budget of Russia is significantly smaller than usually.
Russian Center for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure confirmed that Baikonur financing was going to be reduced.
"In the earlier versions of the Draft Budget 2016, subsidies for Baikonur maintenance were at around $70.4 million," CEO of the Center for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure Sergey Lazarev said, "These funds were supposed to be spent on salaries and maintenance of the cosmodrome's facilities. We asked for more. But when our representative in the Ministry of Finance was shown the final draft, the subsidies made zero. In fact, this could mean that Baikonur will be left without any funding whatsoever."
Russia plans to redirect those funds to its Vostochny Cosmodrome which is currently under construction in Russia's Far East, Russian Finance Ministry informed.
The Center for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure also believes that all the investments which were previously planned for Baikonur will be channeled into Russian Vostochny Cosmodrome, since Russia does not have additional funds to maintain both spaceports.
However, it is not yet known if its is the final decision. In February this year Vladimir Nesterov, First Vice Director General of Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Moscow-based producer of spacecraft and space-launch systems, said that Russia had no plans of abandoning the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur cosmodrome after Vostochny cosmodrome is launched in the Russian Far East.
Baikonur cosmodrome is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about 200 kilometres east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, at 90 meters above sea level.
It was originally built by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s as the base for its space program. It is now leased by the Kazakh government to Russia (until 2050) since 1994 and is managed jointly by the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. The annual rent stands at $115 million.
The town of Baikonur 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.
Baikonur is closer to the Equator than other Russian 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.
Far East is the only region which could offer a latitude comparable to Baikonur's southern location. The Vostochny Cosmodrome is the planned Russian spaceport to be located at the 51st parallel north in the Russian Far East. It is intended to reduce Russia's dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan. Construction began in January 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2018.
Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina