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If Russia Needs New Cosmodrome?

If Russia Needs New Cosmodrome?
Alexey Suvorov 17.08.2007
Еwo governmental delegations visited the Amur and Khabarovsk area during the last two months. Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Anatoly Serdyukov visited cosmodrome "Svobodny" at the beginning of June. There were plenipotentiary in Far East federal district Kamil Iskhakov, officials of the Ministry of Defense and also the assistant of the President of the Russian Federation Victor Ivanov among the participants of a trip. Another delegation followed the same route hardly later than one and a half months, the delegation consisted of the heads and experts of the rocket-and-space branch. The chief of the Federal Space Agency Anatoly Perminov headed it.


According to plenipotentiary of the president in Far East district Kamil Iskhakov, on results of a trip the commission should make a decision - to modernize "frozen" in 2006 cosmodrome in Svobodny (the Amur area) or to build a new one in Vaninskoe or in the Soviet-Havansky area (Khabarovsk Territory). Some analysts and experts went further and already expressed opinion that in the nearest months the Government of the Russian Federation can make the decision about a place of accommodation of the new national cosmodrome.


If it is so or not, will become clear in the near future, but last events show that this question is now being thought over at the highest state level. Probably high governmental commissions habituated with consideration of a question of a choice of a platform alternative to Baikonur for the start of rockets in the Far East having received approval. What is the cause of such situation appeared despite of the contract signed up to 2050 with Republic Kazakhstan on rent of the Kazakhstan cosmodrome? If it's the consequence of the position of the present authority of national space agency of Kazakhstan and first steps of its chief on this post? 


Acting in June at session of the Government of Republic of Kazakhstan and, representing strategy of formation of space branch of the country, the chapter of National space agency of Kazakhstan Talgat Musabaev makes a number of announcements which really put into shock both representatives of the Russian space industry and the foreign companies having relation to the business of starting services. Passions ran high on the eve of the start of the Russian booster from the cosmodrome Baikonur which took place on July, 7th of the current year. The matter is that this start should have taken place from the new, more attractive from ecologic point of view track with tilting of 48 grades. All works on reception of sanction to start were carried out according to the Report of the seventh session of the Intergovernmental commission on cooperation between Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, operating since 2003.


According to this document Russia had the right to carry out so-called single start-ups of its rockets having received approval from Agency of Republic of Kazakhstan on management of ground resources and akimats of corresponding areas of Republic of Kazakhstan on which territory there were fields of falling of rocket stages. Russia always strictly observed the algorithm of coordination registered in the report and never earlier caused objections from the Kazakhstan side. From the moment of signing of the report five single start-ups of the Russian boosters from cosmodrome Baikonur from different new tracks were legalized.


However, now the new chapter of National space agency of Republic of Kazakhstan unilaterally suggested to terminate the report. At that he noted that it is necessary to enable Russia to make single start-up declared earlier, but it should be an exception and the last time. According to our information, this track is more ecologically favourable to Kazakhstan and its inhabitants. It is enough to say that the number of settlements and total quantity of inhabitants living in track zone is significantly less than along other tracks.


The nearest large settlements are located on greater distance from track zone, than earlier, there are no electric mains, pipelines and roads. Right after appearance in mass media of applications of Mr. Musabaev reaction from abroad followed. The customers of starting services expressed concern in connection with imposing of new restrictions on start-ups from the cosmodrome Baikonur. According to some extracts which appeared in press, it was not absolutely clear, whether the new rules which authority of Kazakhstan is going to follow will be applied to single start-ups on new path or to all Russian start-ups of boosters. Negotiations and work on sighing new contracts which potentially can bring billion dollars to Russia are carried out.


And in this situation announcements which can be explained only by doubt of legality of all business of the commercial start-up which are being carried out from the cosmodrome Baikonur are made. The alarm of foreign customers is quite clear. Such actions of the heads of Kazakhstan national space agency can lead to loss of many contracts. As well as state enterprises of the Russian space industry to serious material and moral damage.


Besides serious blow on reputation of Russia and Kazakhstan as reliable partners can be made at realization of the international cooperation in space area and to render negative influence not only on the Russian enterprises, but it will also call into question realization of one more arrogant space project of Republic of Kazakhstan - creation of a rocket complex "Bajterek". Commercial prospects of starting services of a booster "Angara" from complex Bajterek at such behaviour of the management of space agency of Kazakhstan become cloudy - as soon as foreign customers of starting services are one and the same.


Thus, it was shown to Russia that, despite of all existing international arrangements, any high-ranking official of Republic of Kazakhstan can interfere with space activity of Russia from the cosmodrome Baikonur. But it's not all.


It turns out that now the aerospace complex "Ishim" is not necessary to Kazakhstan. The Russian fighter Mig-31 lifting booster of an easy class with useful loading to orbit should become its basis. Two years ago Russia and Kazakhstan signed the contract on this project. What we can see now? National space agency of Kazakhstan proposed to cancel realization of this project.


"Unfortunately we should close the project "Ishim" because of weak marketing study and impossibility to appear with it on the market of space services ... Having spent great means for creation of this complex, we would not receive any feedback".


The project "Ishim" was developed according to the agreement signed by "Kazkosmos" with the Russian partner - the Moscow Institute Heating Engineers.


Refusal of the Kazakhstan side from the project caused certain discontent from the Russian partners. In particular, the assistant to the main designer of the Institute Lev Solomonov emphasized: "To say that the project "Ishim" has little prospects is at least nonprofessional". Management of the Institute approves that it's not going to turn off its work on "Ishim" and hopes on fast settlement of the situation.


It looks like cooperation in space branch between two countries began to grow cold. What's the matter? They say that the role of a person plays in history a great role. Can we here to speak about the role of a person? In fact just recently, on June, 1st, 2007 the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin met the Prime minister of Republic of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov. Questions of bilateral cooperation in power and space were discussed. According to the results of a meeting, the prime minister of Republic of Kazakhstan informed that experts of both countries settled all disputable questions connected with cooperation of Russian and Kazakhstan in space branch: "All questions which were disputable are removed. That is all those projects which we had found their solution. There are still some technical questions, but they are solvable".


Judging from applications and actions of Mr. Musabaev, not all questions are removed. Just recently in iridescent tones he declared readiness of cooperation in realization of space programs and developments of branch with Russia: "Certainly, we shall not become isolated in own national "shell". Detailed plans of joint activity in realization of space programs were discussed first of all with Russia".


That were the words of Talgat Amangeldievich on passing in 2006 in Almaty international "round table" about the prospects of development of satellite systems of Kazakhstan. It was also underlined that it's extremely important to transfer accent from time benefits from tenancy of a complex "Baikonur" on realization of joint with Russia space programs and projects. Well, what is the difference between those words told hardly more one and a half years ago with those actions which National space agency of Kazakhstan make today.


With his actions the chapter of National space agency of Kazakhstan creates intensity in the Russian-Kazak relations. Actually from he makes from his part everything so that the heads of the Russian space branch think over further interaction with the colleagues from Kazakhstan and its stay at the cosmodrome Baikonur.


Whether those were the first steps of Talgat Musabaev in a new field that initiated in the Russian space circles a question on expediency of creation of the cosmodrome and carry of all start-ups on own territory? Whether high governmental commissions with consideration of a question on a choice of a platform alternative to Baikonur for starts of the rockets habituated to the Far East with that aim?
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