Kazakhstan allows Russia to resume space launches
Moscow: Kazakhstan has given Russia permission to carry out launches from the Baikonur space centre, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov said after talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia and Kazakhstan have failed so far to reach an agreement on a new drop zone for the debris from Russian carrier rockets being launched from Baikonur.
The delay has already prevented Russia from launching a European weather monitoring satellite, MetOp-B, scheduled for May 23, and a cluster launch of Belarusian, Canadian, German and two Russian satellites June 7.
Kazakhstan insists that in order for the zone to be used, the two sides must sign an additional agreement to the Baikonur rent agreement, which has to be ratified by the Kazakh parliament.
Kazakh space agency Kazcosmos said that the talks on the new agreement began in 2008, but a draft document is still in the works.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baikonur, built in the 1950s, was leased by Russia from Kazakhstan for $115 million per year till 2050.
Russia, which also annually spends $50 million to maintain the space centre's facilities, intends to gradually withdraw from Baikonur and conduct launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk region and to complete construction of the Vostochny space centre in the Far East.