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Kazakhstan isn’t going to mass-produce cosmonauts: head of KazKosmos National Space Agency

28 october 2015, 21:25
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Turar Kazangapov ©
Turar Kazangapov ©

Talgat Mussabayev, head of KazKosmos National Space Agency, said Kazakhstan would be developing manned space missions to match its emerging research program, a Tengrinews.kz journalist reports.

 “Kazakhstan is among nine space powers who have had three or more astronauts. It’s a rare occupation. For the 55 years since the first manned spaceship was launched there have been slightly more than 500 people to hit the orbit”, he told a briefing at the Service for Public Communications.

“Plans are afoot to keep on training prospective astronauts, including female astronauts. We don’t rule out such an opportunity. However, we don’t possess financial capabilities and there is no actual need to mass-produce astronauts. Sending people to space is not about showing off. Space missions are about hard work. There is always a research program to accomplish. We will keep on training cosmonauts matching the requirements of such space research programs, both for flights to the ISS and other inter-planet flights when the right time comes”, he said.

 Aidyn Aimbetov, a third Kazakhstan-born cosmonaut, flew to the International Space Station on Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft on September 2 along with Russian Soyuz commander Sergey Volkov and European Space Agency flight engineer Andreas Mogensen.

 Before him two Kazakhstan-born cosmonauts had been to the outer space. Tokhtar Aubakirov flew aboard Soyuz TM-13 as a researcher in October 1991, and Talgat Mussabayev served as a flight engineer on a flight to Mir station in 1994 and as a mission commander on flights to Mir and the ISS in 1998 and 2001 respectively.

Two Kazakhstan cosmonaut prospects - Mukhtar Aimakhanov and Aidyn Aimbetov - completed their trainings for space flights at Gagarin State-run Center for Cosmonaut Training back in 2007. One of them was supposed to fly to the ISS as part of an international crew in 2009, however, Kazakhstan postponed the plans due to austerity measures against the backdrop of the global financial crisis.

Kazakhstan is home to Baikonur cosmodrome. 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 around $28.8 million a year from the Russian federal budget.

Mid-October Talgat Mussabayev, head of KazKosmos National Space Agency, stated that a final mechanism to finance the space flight of Aidyn Aimbetov would be defined by the end of 2015. Earlier the country’s media reported that Russia could deduct the amount out of the annual cosmodrome rent.

Earlier KazKosmos had reported that sending the cosmonaut to the ISS would cost $20 million, 2.5 times less than the world's best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman was supposed to pay as a paying guest aboard the International Space Station.  Back in May singer Sarah Brightman announced that she was postponing plans to go into space. Brightman said she was putting her spaceflight on hold for personal and family reasons, and she postponed her cosmonaut training and flight plans. Satoshi Takamatsu, the Japanese astronaut backing up British singer Sarah Brightman on the flight to the International Space Station, also reportedly couldn’t join the crew.


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