Kazakhstan is looking to renegotiate Russia’s long-term lease on the Baikonur Cosmodrome and bring the Soviet-era spaceport under its own control, Kazcosmos head Tagat Musabayev told Parliament.
“The rent agreement on Baikonur adopted in 1994 has run its course. The head of state held talks with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and has tasked us with formulating a new, all-encompassing agreement on Baikonur,” Interfax-Kazakhstan cited Musabayev as saying….
Russia pays Kazakhstan $115 million annually for use of the Soviet-built Baikonur cosmodrome under an arrangement set to expire in 2050. Russia spends $160 million per year operating the facility.
It is likely that Russia will continue to use Baikonur, since its own in-country launch facilities remain underdeveloped, but the possible absence of a lease will create an air of uncertainty over how the facility will be administered in future. A three-man crew from the United States, Russia and Canada is due to leave for the space station next week onboard a Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft.
Musabayev said that if the lease agreement is rescinded, it could be done over several stages, Interfax reported. He suggested the lease for the launch facility for the Zenit vehicles used to carry satellites into orbit could be first to be cancelled.
Observers worry that the transfer of Baikonur to Kazakhstan could lead to an exodus of specialists from the town, worsening the shortage of expertise in Russia’s space program.
RIA Novosti has some additional details about the move:
“Today both nations’ governments have decided to set up a new intergovernmental commission for the Baikonur complex to be headed up by first or other deputy prime ministers,” Kazkosmos head Talgat Musabayev told Kazakhstan’s parliament.
Kazakhstan has demanded reestablishment of the commission which previously oversaw the main aspects of the intergovernmental agreement on Baikonur, the site of the first Soviet rocket launches and Russia’s most important space launch center….Baikonur has 15 launch pads for launching both manned and unmanned space vehicles and supports several generations of Russian spacecraft including the Soyuz, Proton, Tsyklon, Dnepr and Zenit.
Russia intends to eventually withdraw from Baikonur and conduct launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Region and to complete construction of the Vostochny space center in the Far East.