Russia’s Angara Rocket Prepares for Mass Production

The central core of an Angara launcher. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The new production facilities of the Khrunichev Center (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) will make it possible to produce up to ten missiles of the Angara family per year. In two cities of Russia, large-scale preparations are underway for the start of the serial production of missiles of this family. More details about the strategy and principles of organizing production, delimiting areas of responsibility between sites, the near and medium-term prospects of the heavy and light version of Angara.


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.”


Kazakhstan Limits Russian Rocket Launches from Baikonur

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.

Read the full story.

Russian Officials Not Keen on Turning Over Baikonur to Kazakhstan

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.


Kazkosmos Turns 5, Looks to Future

Kazkosmos Chairman Talgat Musabayev

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.


Kazkosmos to Cooperate on Space with UAE, Saudi Arabia

KAZKOSMOS PR — In the period from Nov. 11 to 17, a Kazkosmos delegation headed by Chairman Talgat Musabayev is participating in the “Dubai Air Show 2011” being held in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). As part of “Dubai Air Show 2011”, the Kazkosmos delegation plans to meet with representatives of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology of the United Arab Emirates to discuss cooperation in space activities. At the meeting, there is the planned signing of an agreement between the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology of the United Arab Emirates on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

From 17 to 20 November this year, the Kazkosmos delegation plans to visit Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) to sign an agreement between the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Scientific and Technical town named after King Abdul Aziz (KACST) of Saudi Arabia to establish cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The agreement will be signed on Nov. 19.

Islamic Nations Seek to Catch Up to West in Satellite Technology

An international Islamic organization is embarking on an ambitious “Mega” project aimed at allowing its member nations to catch up to the West in building and using satellites and communications technologies. The effort has the backing of cash flush Saudi Arabia, emerging power Turkey, the populous Asian states of Indonesia and Malaysia, and Kazakhstan, which has its own spaceport.

The Mega project was kicked off during a January meeting in Islamabad of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a 57-nation inter-governmental organization with members on four continents. At the gathering, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said cooperation would help the Islamic world reverse centuries of technological decline:


China Finds Eager Space Partners in Ukraine, Kazakhstan

While the White House and Congress are engaged in a tug-of-war over whether NASA should cooperate with China in space, two nations that inherited parts of the Soviet Union’s space program — Kazakhstan and Ukraine — have moved forward on engaging with the emerging superpower. They join other space powers — including Russia, Canada and Europe — that are already cooperating with China.


Kazakhstan to Up Stake in Dnepr Launch Company

Dnepr launch vehicle. (Credit: JSC Kosmotras)

Kazakhstan will plans to increase its share in the Kosmotras launch company from 10 percent to 33.3 percent next year, Kazakh National Space Agency Talgat Musabayev said on Friday, ITAR-TASS reports.

Late last year, the country acquired 10 percent of the Moscow-based joint stock company, which has Russian and Ukrainian partners. Kosmotras, also known as Cosmotrans, launches Dnepr rockets from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Yasny launch complex in Russia.

“That was the first step in Kazakhstan’s accession to its own spaceport. We have not been present there until now; today we take part in space activities and launches,” he said.

Kazakhstan’s President-for-Life Nazarbayez Re-elected Autocrat

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Nursultan Nazarbayev has been re-elected president of Kazakhstan, winning 95.5 percent of the vote to crush three token opponents in a poll criticized by international observers as falling short of democratic standards.

Nazarbayev, who has ruled the Central Asian nation since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, increased his total from the 91.15 percent that he won in his 2005 re-election bid. Voter turnout was 89.9 percent.

Nazarbayev’s re-election means that there will be no change in the nation’s space policy. The government has been focused on strengthening and diversifying its space industry, which has been largely focused on conducting launches from the Baikonur Spaceport that it inherited from the Soviet Union.

The president has been credited with vastly improving living conditions for citizens and providing stability that has shielded the nation from the instability in the Middle East. He’s been criticized for running a one-party state where decisions are made by a small elite and insiders — including the president and his family — have enriched themselves.

The election was criticized by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as falling short of “genuine democratic” standards. OSCE had observers on the ground who observed numerous irregularities.

One of the president’s opponents, environmentalist Mels Yeleusizov, lost at least one vote: his own. He publicly said that he voted for Nazarbayev out of respect for the inevitable winner.

Kazkosmos Brass Backs President-for-Life Nazarbayev

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazkosmos officials are getting behind the bid of Kazakhstan President-for-Life Nursultan Nazarbayev for another term running the Central Asian republic where the Baikonur Cosmodrome is located. The vote will take place on April 3.

The local ÒšazÒ“arysh branch of Nazarbayev’s People’s Democratic Party (NDP or Nur Otan) recently held a meeting at ÐŒazaÑœstan Єarysh Sapary, a joint stock company run by Kazkosmos. Space agency officials were effusive in their praise for the president, who has held power since 1991. Kazkosmos PAO reports:

“We believe that President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan is a true pioneer in space exploration, because it was he who paved the road to space for Kazakhstan. It concerns the fate of the Baikonur cosmodrome, and the flight of the first Kazakh cosmonaut Toktar Aubakirov, and all three of my space flight, as well as today’s large-scale projects Kazkosmos. We have always felt the support of the President of the country,” said Kazkosmos Chairman Talgat Musabayev, who is a member of the Nur Otan Political Council.


Perminov: We’re Staying at Baikonur Forever

Soyuz rocket

There’s a great scene in the 1988 movie, Married to the Mob, in which Connie Russo (Mercedes Ruehl) explains the facts of Mafia life to Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer).

“We’re your friends, Angela, whether you like it or not,” she declares.

Angela was family, and there was no escaping it. Not even after Connie’s covetous husband, Tony “the Tiger” Russo (Dean Stockwell), rubbed out Angela’s hit man husband, “Cucumber” Frank de Marco (Alec Baldwin).

The situation is not so different for Kazakhstan. Nearly 20 years after it became the last Soviet republic to declare independence, the nation remains joined at the hip with Russia through its Baikonur Cosmodrome. And don’t expect that to change — ever.


Twenty Years Later, Kazakhstan Waits (and Waits) for Second Cosmonaut’s Flight

Soyuz rocket

For more than 50 years, thousands of rockets have thundered from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, sending a series of historic firsts in space:  satellite (Sputnik), human (Yuri Gagarin), space station (Salyut 1), lunar probes and more  Hundreds of cosmonauts have lifted off from the cosmodrome and landed to hero’s welcomes on the Kazakh steppes since 1961.

But in all time, and in all those flights, how many ethnic Kazakhs have ventured out into humanity’s final frontier?

One. Un. Uno. Ein. Один.

And that’s is not sitting very well with the nation’s first cosmic voyager, Tokhtar Aubakirov: (more…)

Perminov: New Vostochny Spaceport to Have Limited Impact on Baikonur Operations

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov


Construction of new Russian space port Vostochny won’t impact Baikonur’s operations, Head of Russian Federal Space Agency Anatoly Perminov said during the press conference  after the 13th meeting of the Baikonur Subcommittee of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan Intergovernmental Cooperative Board hosted by Astana on Nov. 9-10.

“Design and research efforts are ongoing currently at Vostochny. In other words, we are preparing the territory for further construction. It will continue at least for the first half of 2011,” Roscosmos Head stated.


Kazakhstan Investing in Sea Launch?

RIA Novosti has a very interesting article about the Kazakhstan government’s apparent intention to invest about $100 million in bankrupt Sea Launch.

The article quotes Talgat Musabayev, head of the Kazak space agency Kazkosmos, as saying the government wants to acquire shares in the rocket company, which is a joint venture of  Boeing (US), RSC Energia (Russia), Kvaerner (Norway), and Yuzhnoye Design Bureau (Ukraine).