Kazakhstan Limits Russian Rocket Launches from Baikonur

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Proton rocket

Proton rocket

Russian officials are not pleased that Kazakhstan has approved the launch of 12 Proton rockets from Baikonur in 2013 instead of the requested 17. Kazakhstan has cited environmental reasons for the restriction, saying that Proton uses a toxic fuel.

Moscow may demand to review the cosmodrome lease agreement conditions, Iterfax-Kazakhstan reports, citing Interfax Division for Military News as quoting a source in the Russia’s space industry.

“A possible scenario is to initiate talks to have the rent payments tied to the extent to which the Baikonur satisfies Russia’s needs”, the source said.

“Russia is meeting Kazakhstan’s requirements to stagedly decrease harmful emissions of the carrier rockets”, the source said, reminding that Kazakhstan cited environment concerns when restricting the number of launches.

“In particular, Russia has implemented a costly program to modernize Proton carrier rockets to Proton-M. Heptyl-run Cyclon-2 and RS-20 are no longer used”, the source said, adding that “hardly will the sides come to terms within a short time”.

A total of 30 launches are planned from Baikonur this year.

This is the latest dispute over the Kazakh spaceport, which Russia leases at a cost of $115 million per year. Kazakhstan has said it wants to renegotiate the lease and assume greater control over the Soviet-era facility.

Russia will be moving many — but not all — of the launch operations currently performed at Baikonur to a new launch complex at Vostochny in the Russian Far East beginning in 2015.

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