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Kazakhstan to pay Russia $20 mln for its cosmonaut space flight in 2016

July 29, 2015, 17:05 UTC+3 ASTANA

Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov will fly on 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in September, replacing British singer Sarah Brightman, who backed out of the mission in May

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© TASS/Mikhail Dzhaparidze

ASTANA, July 29. /TASS/. Kazakhstan will spend $20 million on the space flight of its cosmonaut, the sum will be paid to Russia in 2016, deputy head of Kazakhstan’s Aerospace Committee Erkin Shaimagambetov told a news conference on Wednesday.

Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov will fly on 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in September, replacing British singer Sarah Brightman, who backed out of the mission in May.

"The payment sum covers all costs the Russian side incurs for ensuring our cosmonaut’s flight. The Russian side has requested a sum of 1 billion and 100 million Russian roubles, which is about $20 million according to today’s exchange rate," he said.

According to the deputy head of the Kazakh Aerospace Committee, "Kazakhstan has been looking forwards to this event since 2009 when the flight was suspended due to the crisis." The decision on the flight that is to take place this September was made at the level of the heads of state of Kazakhstan and Russia. "The launch will be carried out from the Baikonur cosmodrome on September 2 at 04:30am GMT, and landing is expected at 01:00am GMT on September 12," he added.

President of the National Space Research and Technology Centre of Kazakhstan Zhumabek Zhantayev said for his part that Kazakhstan’s cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov during the flight will be engaged in the study of the water condition of the Aral and Caspian seas. According to him, Aimbetov’s scientific programme also includes the study of influence of gamma-ray radiation on cosmonauts and a test of the National Nutrition Institute - tasting of eight dishes, including Kazakh national cuisine, together with other ISS crew members

Aidyn Aimbetov, a 42-year-old fighter pilot turned cosmonaut, will take Brightman’s seat on the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft when it blasts off to the ISS in September. Aimbetov will join Soyuz commander Sergei Volkov and European Space Agency flight engineer Andreas Mogensen - the first Danish astronaut - for the trip. Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos reported on Monday it had approved the nomination of Aimbetov for the space mission.

Mogensen and Aimbetov will fly up on the Soyuz TMA-18M craft and land 10 days later on the Soyuz TMA-16M capsule, which will reach the end of its service life as an escape pod for the station crew. Volkov will remain in orbit until March, and outgoing space station commander Gennady Padalka will come home with Aimbetov and Mogensen, the Spaceflight Now web portal reported.

The short-duration flight is necessary to swap out Soyuz lifeboats at the space station in support of a nearly year-long expedition underway by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. The Soyuz capsule with Volkov, Mogensen and Aimbetov will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the departure point for all Russian space crews. Aimbetov will become the third ethnic Kazakh cosmonaut to fly in space since the Central Asian nation was established with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the second to visit the International Space Station. Brightman arranged to fly to the space station under a contract with Space Adventures, a U.S.-based company which sells open seats on Soyuz missions to business tycoons and celebrities.

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