The International Astronautical Congress wrapped up last week in Dubai. Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin and Glavkosmos boss Dmitry Loskutov held forth during the conference on SpaceX, space tourism and other topics.
Roscosmos is the state-owned corporation that runs Russia’s space program. Glavkosmos is Roscosmos’ commercial arm.
Cosmonauts to fly on Crew Dragon: Rogozin said SpaceX’s Crew Dragon now has enough flights under its belt for Russian cosmonauts to fly aboard it. Crew Dragon has flown three crews to the International Space Station (ISS) and a group of amateur astronauts on a three-day orbital flight. Roscosmos and NASA will pursue a barter agreement that will allow U.S. astronauts to fly on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Before Crew Dragon began flights, NASA was paying Roscosmos $90 million per seat to fly its astronauts to ISS.
For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.
It looks as if Kazakhstan could have a very long wait before it can take control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome and its adjoining city. A Kazakh proposal to gradually end the long-term lease that Russia holds on Baikonur is getting a chilly reception in Moscow.
“It will cause many issues, including social ones,” forecasts deputy head of the Russian State Duma’s commission on the CIS and compatriots Tatyana Moskalkova. She said that economic integration could assist in solving the problem. “If the EurAsian Economic Union were in place, those issues would not be that vital,” she explained.
Head of the State Duma’s commission Leonid Slutsky says the status question may be under discussion to the very end of the rent term between Russia and Kazakhstan, which is to 2050. “The format of the future joint exploitation is not in place, the terms are not clear,” he said. “Clearly, it (revision of the status) is most likely to happen after expiration of the agreement, which is after 2050,” he said.
In testimony to the Kazakh parliament, KazCosmos Director Talgat Musabayev said the Baiterek complex has suffered from Russian delays. Its estimated cost has risen more than sevenfold, he said. He did not give a specific figure in his presentation.
Musabayev said reorienting Baiterek to take advantage of the Baikonur infrastructure built for the Russian-Ukrainian Zenit rocket would be much less expensive than the original plan based on Russia’s Angara rocket, now in development.
Officials celebrated the fifth birthday of Kazakhstan’s space agency, Kazkosmos, on Tuesday as they looked ahead to building a full-fledged space industry that would serve as a key high-tech sector for the nation. A key part of this effort is cooperating with foreign space powers, including Europe, and training a new generation of aerospace workers abroad.
When the Soviet Union broke up 20 years ago, Kazakhstan inherited control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. However, the country lacked a space agency and much in the way of a domestic space industrial sector. There were few trained engineers and technicians, a problem the nation is still addressing today.