50th anniversary of our cosmodrome
text: Aliya Shineleva , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
A few days ago a special Russian commission at Baikonur cosmodrome considered possibilities of using to launching pads for rocket launches.
This seemingly ordinary event is important for Kazakhstan.
Firstly, it confirms that the Russians do not change the Kazakhstani steppe for Plesetzk despite all periodically occurring rumours.
Secondly, starting the implementation of its space programme, the republic is interested in all possible joint projects with its neighbouring leaser.
The forthcoming Year of the Rooster, when the Kazakhstani cosmodrome celebrates its 50th anniversary, promises to become a real start off year for the independent space research by Kazakhstan.
A real one - because finally a state space development programme approved by the government has appeared, it is the first document of this kind in the history of the country.
Nobody is going to be surprised by any programmes today. What's more important is that this one has a financial confirmation, which implies serious intentions. Forty seven billion tenge will be allocated from the budget for its implementation during the next three years. They will be spent for the construction of our own satellite, our own rocket carrier, and for our own space launches.
Until now we have been only sort of trying the space-suit on. In ten years four scientific research projects were implemented, we can be proud that there are two Kazakhstani spacemen, who have already been in space and other two are preparing to further flights.
Our scientists were preparing food for spacemen and it was used aboard the spaceships. However those were mainly languid projects and "Aelita" JV, created for concrete programmes did not start to work.
But now from the status of the leaser it is possible switch to the status of a space power. It would be a sin not to use this unique in its technical equipment and geographic situation cosmodrome, created in due time by the Soviet empire and its military complex. Exactly from here launches of piloted spaceships and better conditions for their takeout to the orbit are possible, because dry sunny weather reigns here for the most part of the year.
Having lived through hard times, the city and the test ground, anyway have left the spin, although with losses. And now, judging from the visit of the Russian heads and specialists of space industry, the reconstruction of abandoned or underused production facilities has started. Probably, one of the main launching pads will be used for launches of a Kazakhstani rocket "Baiterek".
The programme suggests an establishment of its own design office in the space area. The constructors, scientists and specialists will commence work in the second direction that is the most important after the organisation of our own communication satellite - the construction of our own rocket carrier "Baiterek". It will differ from ill-famed "Protons" by its environmental security. Heptyl, that is currently used, is especially harmful for the environment and human health. In the inneties there were two big crashes of "Protons", when heptyl rained on two Kazakhstani regions.
Currently there are nine launching complexes with fifteen pads, ten assembly and test workshops at Baikonur. A part of this base, as per agreement with Russia, can be used for the implementation of our programme. Specialists are sure that we can count on Saryshagan test site as well.
A radio engineering complex for space observation has remained in a good condition there.
A year after a launch of our own geostationary satellite "KazSat" is planned, they already work on it. Now the country spends around thirty million USD each year for the rent of satellites. According to specialists, 65 million dollar costs for the project of launching a national one will pay back in three years.
Scientific and technical cadre remain. Almost twenty scientific research institutes participated in several space projects. Kazakhstani students, who have chosen aerospace professions, are returning from Russian Universities, a lot of students are also going to graduate on these subjects also from Kazakhstani Universities. There are plans of attracting foreign space specialists as well.
Of course, there are a lot of doubts and problems. For instance, will there be profits from launches of our own rocket carrier. Already now there is a tendency towards a reduction of applications for commercial launches, moreover, other countries, apart from China and India, are already knocking on the doors of the space powers club.
The number of launches at Baikonur has fallen by three times in the last 20-30 years. But it would not be wise to fail using the potential of our cosmodrome, which, according to the programme, as the government believes, so one can assume that the development of our space industry has already started.
Apart from scientific launches, requests from space tourists, showing interest in extreme travels can also be accepted.
By the way the tourism industry will need quite a lot of investments, without which the town and cosmodrome infrastructure cannot be developed. The experience of other countries, the USA in the first place, in which visiting a space centre is as ordinary as visiting a Zoo, could be useful.
Baikonur could become an attractive tourist centre, it is the town from which a man departed from the planet Earth for the Universe for the first time. But there are not good roads, hotels, or even commerce with services there.
Neither the leaser, nor other countries will participate in it. Only Kazakhstan is interested in making our town, the first space port, look so that one would not feel ashamed either before our fellow Earth dwellers or before possible visitors from other worlds if they wish to visit our planet one day.
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09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan