Russia Looks to Cut Back on Funding for Baikonur

Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)
Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)

Russian funding for the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is likely to be cut significantly in the years ahead as Roscosmos shifts its focus toward the new Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East:

“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.

Russia pays Kazakhstan an annual rent of $115 million to use Baikonur, a practice that will apparently continue after Vostochny is operational. Russian officials have said they plan to launch commercial rockets from Baikonur. The lease runs until 2050.

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