Tag Archives: Kazakhstan

Truck driver killed in fire related to crash of Soyuz stage in Kazakhstan

A truck driver has died in an effort to extinguish a fire related to the crash in Kazakhstan of the stages from the Soyuz rocket that earlier this week launched a Progress freighter to ISS.

This story does not indicate any failure on Russia’s part during the launch. What it does highlight is the problematic location of their Baikonur spaceport, which requires expendable first stages to crash on land. In fact, this incident also suggests it wise for the Russians, and the Kazakhstans, to consider developing recoverable first stages that can land in a controlled manner, as SpaceX has, in order to make this spaceport more useful and safer.

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Baikonur Cosmodrome to open for tourists

The competition heats up: Faced with the possibility that the Russians might eventually end their lease arrangement combined with a desire to make money, Kazakhstan is now planning to make the historic Baikonur spaceport available to tourists.

Why they haven’t done this years ago is baffling. But then, this is Russia and Kazakhstan, not the U.S.

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Russia replaces Brightman with Kazakhstan astronaut

Rather than fly a different tourist on the September ISS flight that Sarah Brightman has backed out of, Russia has instead given the seat to an astronaut from Kazakhstan.

The article suggests that Russia might be doing a barter deal with Kazakhstan, saving money on its lease for Baikonur in exchange for the astronaut flight.

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A Kazakhstan political party is demanding the end of all launches from Baikonur.

Trouble in Russia: A Kazakhstan political party is demanding the end of all Proton launches from Baikonur.

Though I doubt this party’s radical and somewhat ignorant environmental position will gain much traction in a country where Russia’s spaceport is one of its biggest employees, its existence demonstrates why Russia is working hard to get its new spaceport in Vostochny, Russia, finished as quickly as possible.

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It appears there is some “dissatisfaction” among Kazakhstan officials over the cleanup from July’s spectacular Proton rocket crash.

It appears there is some “dissatisfaction” among Kazakhstan officials over the cleanup from July’s spectacular Proton rocket crash.

I think the Russians are probably rushing the clean-up in order to begin launch operations as soon as possible, and this is what Kazakhstan finds objectionable.

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Some details have been released about that deal between Russia and Kazakhstan over the Baikonur spaceport.

Some details have been released about that deal between Russia and Kazakhstan over the Baikonur spaceport.

It seems the conflict does revolve around Russia’s new spaceport under construction in Vostochny, and how it might compete with Baikonur. Kazakhstan feels threatened, and is trying to forestall a loss in business.

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The leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan have announced that an agreement has been reached regarding Russia’s lease for the Baikonur spaceport.

The leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan have announced that an agreement has been reached regarding Russia’s lease for the Baikonur spaceport.

No details were released but I suspect that Kazakhstan has probably backed down from some of its demands, fearful of losing the Russians when the new Russian spaceport in Vostochny opens in 2015.

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The Russian foreign minister today denied that there is any friction between Kazakhstan and Russia over the use of the Baikonur spaceport.

The Russian foreign minister today denied that there is any friction between Kazakhstan and Russia over the use of the Baikonur spaceport. More here.

Despite the denial, it appears that they are in some tough negotiations which to their chagrin got leaked to the press.

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Russia is now threatening to abandon its Baikonur launch site due to restrictions demanded by the Kazakhstan government.

Russia is now threatening to abandon its Baikonur launch site due to restrictions demanded by the Kazakhstan government.

The restrictions include a limitation in the number of Proton launches, which Russia claims will cost them half a million dollars in sales. The problem is that the new Russia launch site in Vostochny will not be ready until 2015. If Russia pulls out of Baikonur before then, there will be no way to launch humans to ISS for at least the next two years.

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Despite the continuing lack of an agreement, Kazakhstan today gave Russia permission to resume launches from the Baikonur spaceport.

Despite the continuing lack of an agreement, Kazakhstan today gave Russia permission to resume launches from the Baikonur spaceport.

Their new as yet unfinished spaceport in Vostochny must appear increasingly important to the Russians.

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Kazakhstan is blocking three upcoming Russian satellite launches from its spaceport in Baikonur because of a dispute over where rocket debris will fall.

Kazakhstan is blocking three upcoming Russian satellite launches from its spaceport in Baikonur because of a dispute over where rocket debris will fall.

I suspect that Russia is now even more enthused over completing its new spaceport in Vostochny.

In related news, a Russian analysis of the consequences of the Dragon docking at ISS. The article also notes some potential changes in the Russian space effort.

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A graveyard of ships in the desert

A graveyard of ships — in the desert.

This environmental disaster in the Soviet Union was caused more by that failed country’s centralized state-run command society than the technological society they were trying to create. Though technology in any kind of society can certainly do harm to the environment, when all decisions are controlled by a single entity — in this case the communist Soviet government — it is practically impossible to adapt and adjust when things start going wrong.

In a free democracy, however, you have many safety valves. No project is ever so big that it effects everything, and if things start to go wrong the chaos of freedom will allow people to choose differently, correcting the problem more quickly.

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Russia is considering ending its joint commercial program with the Ukraine and Kazakhstan to launch satellites using its Dnepr rocket.

Russia is considering ending its joint commercial program with the Ukraine and Kazakhstan to launch satellites using its Dnepr rocket.

There are several reasons this decision might happen. One, the Russian government under Putin might now be shifting away from capitalism after two decades of financial success. And if so, that will be to the United States’ advantage. Two, they might have decided that the Dnepr system can’t compete on the market, and it is wiser not to throw good money after bad.

Either way, the abandonment of Dnepr will be bad for Kazakhstan and the Ukraine, and suggests that when the Russians finally get their Vostochny spaceport operational, on their own soil, they will abandon Baikonur in Kazakhstan forever.

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The space police of Baikonur

The space police of Baikonur.

I find this quote interesting:

When the status of the city was designated [after the fall of the Soviet Union], the leased Baikonur was monitored by two Interior Ministries, two prosecutors’ offices and two state security organs. But social problems have not disappeared. Engineers and astronauts are not the only ones who live in the city. Baikonur hosts a great deal of people who have local residence papers, including the indigenous Kazakhs. They cannot work on Baikonur objects because mostly Russians are hired to work there. If the Kazakhs are lucky enough to be hired, they are paid far less than the Russians.

In June of this year mass uprisings occurred in Baikonur. A crowd of youths pelted a police patrol car with stones and bottles.

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