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Space Science

Kazakhstan Wants Russia To Hand Over Their Baikonur Space City 131

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the borat-goes-to-mars dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "RIA Novosti reports that Kazakhstan and Russia are in talks over returning the city of Baikonur to Kazakhstan — the site of the first Soviet rocket launches and Russia's most important space launch center. Baikonur, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, is the main launch facility for the current generation of Russian rockets and was leased by Russia from Kazakhstan under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 'Today both nations' governments have decided to set up a new intergovernmental commission for the Baikonur complex to be headed up by first or other deputy prime ministers,' said Talgat Musabayev, head of Kazakhstan's space agency. At issue is control over Baikonur and the rent Russia pays Kazakhstan to use the facility, a subject of ongoing dispute between the two nations ever since Kazakhstan gained independence from the USSR. Earlier this year, Kazakhstan blocked Russia from launching several rockets from Baikonur in a dispute over a drop zone for debris and Kazakhstan insisted this must be covered by a supplement to the main rental agreement signed in Astana in 2004, extending Russia's use of the space center's facilities until 2050. Russia pays an annual fee of approximately $115 million to use the space center, which currently has the world's busiest launch schedule, as well as $50 million annually for maintenance. Russia and Kazakhstan are working to build a new space launch facility at Baikonur, called Baiterek, to launch Angara carrier rockets capable of delivering 26 metric tons of payload to low-Earth orbits but Russia intends to eventually withdraw from Baikonur and conduct launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, an operating spaceport about 500 miles north of Moscow — and the unfinished Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East."
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Kazakhstan Wants Russia To Hand Over Their Baikonur Space City

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  • I bet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aglider (2435074) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:27AM (#42249802) Homepage
    They won't return it!
    For a simple question: why should they?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is not much more than a political gambit. Kazakhstan squeezes, russia squeezes back. Or, more precisely, kazakhstan squeezes, russia pays off whoever needs to be paid off in kazakhstan, and things are back to normal. There's a good reason why I've seen more maybachs in Almaty than any other city in the world. While nowhere nearly as corrupt as uzbekistan or turkmenistan or russia as a whole, kazakhstan is still by in large run with russia's golden hand up its backside.

      russia, or, more specifically,

      • then why was putin voted back in?
        • Re:I bet (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ikaruga (2725453) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:08AM (#42250024)
          First because he said internet-reading educated russians in large cities. Educated people are a minority in most regions of the planet.
          Second, corruption is rampart in Russia. Even if the people vote against Putin they can easily work around it. Last elections over there showed it:140% votes [economist.com]
          As a guy who was born in Russia this corruption pisses the crap out of me.
          • Last elections over there showed it:140% votes [economist.com]

            Perhaps Mr. Putin could be persuaded to finish off his career in the United States, helping us to increase our terrible level of political engagement.

          • by mgcarley (735176)

            Come to India - the world's premier corruption-free destination!! [1][2][3]

            [1] Side-effects may include gastrointestinal and breathing difficulties
            [2] Corruption level relative to Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan
            [3] According to a poll of 543 "randomly" sampled individuals

        • then why was putin voted back in?

          Probably for the same reason why Hitler was voted in in the first place...charisma, propaganda, nationalist tendencies, social issues etc.

          • And let's not forget that sweet, sweet, >100% voter turnout. Evidence suggest the Communist Party actually received more legitimate votes last year.
        • Re:I bet (Score:4, Funny)

          by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @12:23PM (#42251231)

          then why was putin voted back in?

          Because it was his turn to be president. Next time, it will be Medvedev's turn.

          So, the two of them are sitting in a bathtub, and Putin asks Medvedev, "What day is it today?" Medvedev answers, "Tuesday." Putin responds, "Good! Then I am president today, and you must go to the freezer to fetch us another bottle of vodka!"

        • Widespread lack of belief that the opposition is better. The major complaints from the opposition against Putin are that he is corrupt, and gives money and power to his friends. As far as running the country, he does ok.

          The American way to handle this would be to throw the corrupt guy out, and let the new corrupt guy in. The Russian way to handle it is to try to be friends with the current corrupt guy.
          • ....
            The American way to handle this would be to throw the corrupt guy out, and let the new corrupt guy in. The Russian way to handle it is to try to be friends with the current corrupt guy.

            Sadly, I agree with you. That is why I am part of RootStrikers.org. I think that replacing one neo-con with a dem does not really change that much. And as long as the 2 major parties block 3rd parties, nothing will change. As such, we need the citizens to block CONgress from being so corrupt.

      • Re:I bet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:05AM (#42250525)

        Your post's first part is correct. Second is opinionated drivel on the level of fox news. Governing world's largest state with extremely complex mixture of cultures and ethnicities that have standing conflicts that sometimes spawn over millenia requires a very hard handed approach.

        Most people don't seem to understand that large states are ALL corrupt, but corruption changes face in accordance to local culture. In the East, it's generally low level corruption, with low and middle level bureaucrats that take most of the bribes. The upper echelon of the bureaucracy typically accepts this as a realistic cost of running an Eastern country.

        In the West, we typically have a high level corruption where highest of the ruling elite are more corrupt then low and middle bureaucrats. And we the people accept that corruption at highest strata of society is just the way our culture works.

        I still remember the old saying about the biggest difference between Russia and USA. In USA, money is power. In Russia, power is money.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        I don't see paying for the renting of a facility as corruption. It's good business for both of them. Kazakhstan doesn't have a space program so the Baikonur would be useless to them, and Russia doesn't have territories near the equator, so they have to strike a deal.

      • Re:I bet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @02:24PM (#42252561) Journal

        russia, or, more specifically, the russian governments from basically 1400 through 1991 and then 2000 - today have been this giant cancer that has caused hardship and ruin for the lives of hundreds of millions in states and regions that border russia.

        Indeed. How dare they build roads, irrigation, schools, universities, power plants, factories, and, well, cosmodroms in countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan etc, which were obviously doing so well on their own with 99% of their people living in yurts and herding livestock.

        Stop colonialism today! Replace the Russian cancer on Kazakh soil that is Baikonur with traditional Kazakh yurts!

    • Because Kazakhstan, glorious nation, is not run by little girl and Russia is.
  • time to invade (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alen (225700)

    like they did in georgia a few years back

    • Re:time to invade (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:48AM (#42249906)

      Didnt Georgia invade the independent countries Ossetia and Abkhazia first, so Russians had to come and protect Ossetia's and Abkhazias sovereignty, after recognizing their independence a few hours before?

      As the US and other western countries demonstrated with Kosovo, recognizing some random regions independence from one of your geopolitical foes and then marching in to protect the newly granted independence is a valid practice according to international law.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Right.... Georgia recognized their sovereignty after Russia held a gun to the collective heads of nearly everybody in Georgia?

        Don't even get me started with Kosovo. That is a political quagmire that has nearly 2000 years of bullshit strewn around the rest of the world and is responsible for the deaths of literally millions of people including folks in my hometown. In spite of all of those millennia of turmoil and death, little seems to be solved.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > Right.... Georgia recognized their sovereignty after Russia held a gun to the collective heads of nearly everybody in Georgia?

          Russia recognized their sovereignty and 5 minutes later marched in to protect it. Like the US and the EUSSR did in Kosovo. What the tiny Georgia did or did not absolutely doesnt matter.

          > In spite of all of those millennia of turmoil and death, little seems to be solved.

          Nobody cares about Kosovo itself. But the conquest of Kosovo massively changed the bigger picture of thing

          • by Teancum (67324)

            Russia took the conquest of Kosovo by the US and the EUSSR as a precedent: "If you can legitimize an invasion and a land grab simply by proclaming the regions you want to grab as independent first, so can we." And they did. And they will again if they feel like it, because no international law exists any more to stop them.

            Russia did nothing of the sort. If you really want to understand why Russia went into Georgia, I would suggest reading this book [gutenberg.org] or you can simply read the Cliff Notes [wikipedia.org].

            It was simply in the national interest to do what Russia did, as was also the case with Kosovo. In the case of the USA, it was even more about the personal ambition and the need to establish a "lasting legacy" on the part of Bill Clinton.... and ditto for Putin in regards to Georgia. Russia wanted a strong leader, so that is what they got.

            • This does not contradict GP's points. Regardless of why NATO went into Kosovo, and why Russia went into South Ossetia, the point is that the former established the precedent used to justify the latter. You can't have your cake and eat it too...

      • AC doesn't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:27AM (#42250713)

        Didnt Georgia invade the independent countries Ossetia and Abkhazia first, so Russians had to come and protect Ossetia's and Abkhazias sovereignty, after recognizing their independence a few hours before?

        As the US and other western countries demonstrated with Kosovo, recognizing some random regions independence from one of your geopolitical foes and then marching in to protect the newly granted independence is a valid practice according to international law.

        Ossetia and Abkhazia have always been part of Georgia, but in the days of the USSR, it didn't matter who they belonged to as long as they were in the USSR. With independence, the regions are majority ethnic Russian and they didn't like being joined to an ethnic group (Georgian) who they regard as being something equivalent to rednecks or hillbillies in the USA. So they kicked all the ethnic Georgians out or killed them and proclaimed independence. Being on the border with Russia, Russia sent troops in officially as "peacekeepers" but in reality to prevent a weak Georgian military from re-taking them. But they belong to Georgia. Recognizing their independence is just a sham to justify the illegal action of basically stealing the territories from Georgia.

        Kosovo is somewhat different in that genocidal warfare basically made many countries argue for independence as the only way to protect the citizens. There's nothing really analogous to this in Georgia as in Ossetia and Abkhazia they kicked out the non-Russians and the Russians were never in any real danger to begin with, although they like to claim that they were to justify kicking out the Georgians.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > Ossetia and Abkhazia have always been part of Georgia

          So what? Now they're not any more.

          > Kosovo is somewhat different in that genocidal warfare

          None of that happened in Kosovo. It happened in other Yugoslavian republics, but not in Kosovo.

          > independence as the only way to protect the citizens.

          So argued Russia, when it granted (and subsequently enforced) independence to Abkhazia and Ossetia.

          > There's nothing really analogous

          The analogy is that in both cases, somebody armed to teeth declares a pa

          • by balaband (1286038)

            > Kosovo is somewhat different in that genocidal warfare

            None of that happened in Kosovo. It happened in other Yugoslavian republics, but not in Kosovo.

            ...

            The justification doesnt matter as there is no independent third party to judge whether the justification is sufficient or not. Without an impartial judge, the Russian justification to attack Georgia as as good as the US/EUSSR one to attack Serbia. The Russians explicitly referenced the Kosovo precedent when they attacked Georgia. "If you can redraw other countries borders at gunpoint, so can we. Go figure!"

            Where are my modpoints when I need them?

            As a Serbian, I may be biased towards the happening at Kosovo, but the info that USA/EU public has been fed is nothing short of scandalous, and I really didn't expect from you guys to be so much misinformed. I guess it is easier to proclaim Serbia as a "bad guy", then talk about organ thefts [wikipedia.org], drugs [guardian.co.uk] and terrorism [rt.com], or the fact that USA president can't hold his dick in his pants.

            NOT posting as AC. Time to burn some karma, I don't fucking care - you need to get the versio

        • With independence, the regions are majority ethnic Russian and they didn't like being joined to an ethnic group (Georgian) who they regard as being something equivalent to rednecks or hillbillies in the USA. So they kicked all the ethnic Georgians out or killed them and proclaimed independence.

          First of all, those regions are not majority ethnic Russian. They are majority ethnic Ossetian and Abkhazian, respectively. Neither of those are Russian, or even related to Russia in any way (they speak different languages, have different culture etc). The only common point is religion - Eastern Orthodox - but then Georgians also share it.

          Also, the reason why South Ossetia and Abkhazia rebelled back in the day was because, when Georgia became independent from the USSR, it elected a president [wikipedia.org] who was, for al

      • by i (8254)

        No. South-Ossetia and Abkhazia was/is a part of Georgia. They are still only recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu (and by partially recognized Transnistria and unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh. And each other).

        Georgia tried to use army forces to retake the control of South-Ossetia but was met with Russian forces which entered Georgia proper in fighting.
        Separatist forces in Abkhazia have with the help of Russian weapons and forces more or less complete control of Abkhazia.

        Rega

  • by slcdb (317433) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:36AM (#42249848) Homepage

    Prepare for the onslaught of "In Soviet Russia ..." jokes.

  • I read this headline on Twitter, and it seemed that the submitter meant a hostile situation
  • Too far north. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:47AM (#42249902)

    "Russia intends to eventually withdraw from Baikonur and conduct launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, an operating spaceport about 500 miles north of Moscow â" and the unfinished Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East."

    200 miles south of Arkhangelsk? Really?

    As one moves further north, one loses the assist from the Earth's rotation. Launch anything easterly from the Equator, and you get slightly more than a 1,000 mile per hour boost to orbit. If you want to save fuel and cost, you try to launch from as far south as you can, which is why we launch from Florida instead of Cape Cod.

    (24902 * cos(63))/24

    24902=Circumference of the Earth
    63=Latitude of the Plestsk Cosmodrome in degrees
    24=Hours in a day.

    471mph/758kph - it's the worst out of all of them.

    Vostochny Cosmodrome is 51 degrees N. 653mph/1051kph

    Baikonur is roughly 46 degrees North - 720mph/1160kph

    Canaveral is 28.5 (roughly) - 912mph/1468kph

    Centre Spatial Guyanais - 5 degrees N. 1034mph 1664kph - the ESA gets the biggest boost.

    Unfortunately for the Russians, they don't have anything very far south. The furthest south they can go is the southern end of Dagestan at roughly the same latitude as New York City.

    --
    BMO

    • Re:Too far north. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vbraga (228124) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:59AM (#42249972) Journal

      Does launch latitude matters for polar orbits?

      • Re:Too far north. (Score:4, Informative)

        by bmo (77928) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:13AM (#42250058)

        No, you can launch polar orbiting sats from nearly anywhere, it's where the bits fall that may be a problem.

        The US launches polar orbiting sats from Vandenberg, because a launch failure or simply a spent booster means that it goes down in the Pacific instead of somewhere on the continental US or Canada (because the Earth rotates under it).

        Polar sats are a small percentage of launches.

        --
        BMO

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Does launch latitude matters for polar orbits?

        Short answer, "Yes." Long answer; It's 8am and I haven't had my morning coffee. I don't discuss orbital mechanics before caffination. But I'm sure someone else will in a few hours, once the East coast has finished wasting time on all the other websites we go to in order to avoid working and come here...

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Surprised nobody has answered this yet. Yes, it matters, and in fact the further you go towards the poles the better. That delta-v boost you get at the equator is entirely in the wrong direction. You actually have to expend energy to lose that velocity to go into a true polar orbit. If you just pointed your rocket due north and expended the energy necessary to get into orbit you'd end up in a highly inclined orbit that wasn't quite polar. If you wanted to be in a polar orbit you need to actually aim yo

    • As one moves further north, one loses the assist from the Earth's rotation. Launch anything easterly from the Equator, and you get slightly more than a 1,000 mile per hour boost to orbit. If you want to save fuel and cost, you try to launch from as far south as you can, which is why we launch from Florida instead of Cape Cod.

      Well, no. You seem to have forgotten that the Cape started as a ballistic missile test range... Why? Because back then the area was largely uninhabited with lots of empty ocean to th

      • by afidel (530433)

        Don't think of it as saving fuel, think of it as increasing launchable payload with the same class launcher and therefore reducing your $/kg to orbit. For orbital satellites what it generally means is you can increase the on-orbit operational life because you can carry more reaction mass to re-boost the orbit.

        • Don't think of it as saving fuel, think of it as increasing launchable payload with the same class launcher and therefore reducing your $/kg to orbit.

          Either way, moving your launch site is a very expensive way of saving a relatively small amount of money or gaining a fairly modest amount of performance.

          For orbital satellites what it generally means is you can increase the on-orbit operational life because you can carry more reaction mass to re-boost the orbit.

          Assuming the bird in question carries r

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ikaruga (2725453)
      The furthest south they can go is the southern end of Dagestan at roughly the same latitude as New York City.
      Yes, but interesting enough, Kazakhstan's most southern point is about the same as Russia's. There is really no reason to use Kazakhstan other than "saving money" instead of building a new lauch center.
      • Yes, but interesting enough, Kazakhstan's most southern point is about the same as Russia's.

        It's not just the latitude - you also want to build that kind of stuff in an area that is relatively sparsely populated. Kazakhstan is perfect for that, being mostly desert. Dagestan is mostly mountains, and north of it are heavily populated "bread basket" lands of Kuban.

    • by badfish99 (826052)

      Still, at 63 degrees north in Siberia they won't have so much trouble keeping the liquid oxygen in the fuel tanks cold.

      Finding people who want to work there might be a problem, though. Although, on second thoughts, it might be a better job than working in the salt mines.

      • by bmo (77928)

        >Still, at 63 degrees north in Siberia

        >Siberia

        No. West of the Urals now... This is closer to St. Petersburg than Omsk, which is actually in Siberia.

        >cold

        Meh. There are far colder places to be.

        >salt mines

        No.

        Logging. Lots and lots of logging. Go look at the river near the Ulitsa Gagarina bridge in Arkhangelsk, just north of the city center. You've never seen so many log rafts. Wood, paper mills, etc.

        Where this cosmodrome is, used to be an ICBM site.

        --
        BMO

    • by Mercano (826132)
      This is why Russia and the ESA recently built a Soyuz launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre; They get nearly double the performance to GEO there, from 1.7 tonnes out of Baikonur to 3 out of Kourou [esa.int]. Russia's still dependent on Kazakhstan for Proton launches, though, and that's what they're currently using for most of their communication satellite launches.
    • by GodGell (897123)

      There is something wrong with your math. The circumference of the Earth is 40,075 km. Where did you get that 24K figure from??

      • by bmo (77928)

        No, I'm not wrong.

        It's miles.

        Now if you want to get in a war with me over whether miles or kilometers is better, I'm going to insist that the Gunther chain adjusted to a nautical mile instead of a statute mile is a superior standard.

        --
        BMO

  • It was silly to give Kazakhstan independence in the first place.

    What would Stalin have done?

  • by TWX (665546) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:13AM (#42250056)
    ...and their goodwill toward continuing to allow us access to the space station, but we're dependent on the goodwill of another nation that has felt the presence of the Russians as a thorn in their collective sides for all these years?

    Mr Musk, please get your capsule man-rated as soon as you can...
    • by afidel (530433)

      Meh, Dragon and Falcon 9 have been proven to work, the only thing lacking is the stamp from NASA marking them as man-rated, in actuality Falcon 9 is probably safer than anything NASA has approved as man-rated due to the nature of the engines. If we had a national security interest in reaching the ISS quickly without the Russians participation the crew capsule version of Dragon would be completed with little delay.

  • Job Creators (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tekrat (242117)

    All Russia has to do is threaten to move the facility. The space center is probably the area's only source of jobs. Russian just has to pretend he's Pappa John Pizza-man, and start firing people who are local because of the "onerous healthcare taxes" or something that Cossak-Stan is asking for.

    Geeze. We need to get Fox News in Russia. Those guys are not corrupt enough.

    • Cossak-Stan

      Kazakhs and Cossacks aren't the same people. Not even close. I recommend you remember that if you ever find yourself in either Kazakhstan or certain parts of Russia and Ukraine. ;)

      • See, we here in the Great Melting Pot don't give a damn. And from this distance, don't really see that much difference. The fact that Cossacks and Kazakhs will violently object to being confused with one another strikes us as silly at best, primitive at worst. Get over yourselves. After Genghis Khan went through, you're all practically brothers anyway.

        Yet Europe, from West to far East, has been busily at war over such crap for the past 1000 years. Really? Get another hobby!

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          See, we here in the Great Melting Pot don't give a damn. And from this distance, don't really see that much difference. The fact that Cossacks and Kazakhs will violently object to being confused with one another strikes us as silly at best, primitive at worst. Get over yourselves. After Genghis Khan went through, you're all practically brothers anyway.

          Yet Europe, from West to far East, has been busily at war over such crap for the past 1000 years. Really? Get another hobby!

          Yes it's fantastic that there's no racism anywhere in the US and you have created a perfectly peaceful and tolerant multi-cultural society! With that and your enlightened foreign policy initiatives, it's no wonder that all the world wants to be like you.

  • When they are done building the new launch center, turn the old one into a tourist destination. Space geeks from around the world would flock to see that and the Borat World amusement park next door.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      If space geeks were willing to pay to go be a tourist there they would do it now while it is still active.

  • The US would LOVE to own that spaceport; they'd jump at the chance with promisses of lots of money. Kazakhstan would immediately be eligible for all sorts of federal grants, loans, and development incentives. The people of Kazakhstan would see a big influx of businesses and jobs, along with social programs and charities, tripping over eachother in the rush to exploit, uh, provide for the new markets. I think it would be a huge win all around. Except perhaps for Russia.

    Then there really would be "Americans

    • by atisss (1661313)

      Without Russian rockets it's not much of use. US already got launch facilities, but they don't have any rockets.

  • a prelude to the first war in space?
  • Are they crazy? Do they not read the Cheezburger site on Vladurday?

  • by Covalent (1001277) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:16AM (#42250599)
    ...In Soviet Russia, Baikonur leases YOU!
    ...In Soviet Russia, Bribery is run by the Government!
    ...In Soviet Russia, corruption is impeded by rocket launches!
    ...In Soviet Russia, 140% of people vote for TWO Baikonurs!


    Meh...these aren't very good. Somebody please do better. This is /. people. We have a reputation to maintain!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ...In Soviet Russia, Covalent makes up quotes about YOU!

  • A bit off-topic. Can someone tell me what happens to the spent first stage boosters when they are jettisoned? Since Baikonur and Kazakhstan are land locked, I assume they just fall back to earth (not water)? Do people live down range of Baikonur in the drop zone? Thanks.
  • They should send Borat to ask Putin so space station make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan.
  • NASA is paying $60M a seat for 4 to 6 astronaut rides a year to the space station. Russia made money when they charged $20M for private astronauts.
  • "In Kazakhstan we have many hobbies: disco dancing, archery, rape, and table tennis".
  • It was built for high inclination polar orbit insertion, e.g. spy satellites. A more useful general purpose launch site is Svobodny. It was originally built to replace Baikonur but they ran out of money.

  • I believe it would be in Russia's interest to invest in and build a large sea launch capability. They could send rockets etc. from Vladivostok to just about any point on the equator of the Pacific ocean and it would increase their launch capabilities. By the way, the U.S. could also do this in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic!

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