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ASTANA, June 8 (Itar-Tass) — Russia expects Kazakhstan’s permission to resume satellite launches from the Baikonur spaceport next month or earlier.
Asked by reporters when the situation will be unlocked, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) Vladimir Popovkin said: “In a month or maybe earlier.”
Earlier on Thursday, the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan adopted a special statement on the preservation of Baikonur cosmodrome’s infrastructure, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev told journalists.
“Baikonur is our pride, and it works for the benefit of both countries,” said Nazarbayev. He said that at talks with Putin they discussed the preservation of Baikonur’s infrastructure, “adopted the presidents’ statement on this issue.”
In mid-May Popovkin told reporters that the Federal Space Agency plans to reconstruct the Baikonur cosmodrome. He noted that the Baikonur cosmodrome in leased by Russia until 2050. The entire infrastructure was created during the Soviet times and is largely worn out, so its most important facilities are to be reconstructed.
“We started reconstruction the 39th launcher this spring,” said Popovkin. “This year the 31th launching unit will also be reconstructed.”
According to him, the reconstruction will be carried out for the next manned launch from the 31th pad. “Many things are yet to be refined at this pad to prepare it for a manned launch,” the head of the Russian Space Agency said.
He also noted that “the integration houses are in an ideal condition, and they will serve yet for more than a decade.” Speaking of the near-term plans Popovkin said they include modernisation of the spaceport’s electric power supply system.
“We do not want to get away from the Baikonur cosmodrome, as some say, we want two spaceports - Baikonur and Vostochny, which we have started to build, to complement each other,” the head of the Russian Space Agency said.
He also said that cosmonautics is a very complex thing and nobody is guaranteed from failure here, “therefore it is necessary to have reserve launch pads.”
The first launch from Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome, which is actively under construction, is scheduled for 2015, and the first manned launch from it will take place no earlier than 2018.