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Analyst points to reasons behind Russia's decision to return to Baikonur spaceport

An expert assures that from the economic standpoint the decision is quite reasonable

MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. The decision to carry out manned launches of the Federatsiya spacecraft from the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan will let the Russian space corporation contain costs, but at the same time delay the first launch, a member of the Tsiolkovsky Cosmonautics Academy, Aleksandr Zheleznyakov, has told TASS.

"I can say that from the economic standpoint this decision is reasonable. It will allow for saving certain funds and funnel them into research crucial to our industry. On the other hand, repeated revisions of previous decisions are not quite useful for the reputation of our space program and space rocket industry as such. True, costs will be cut, but the work will be delayed, too. It is pretty clear that an unmanned launch of a new spacecraft will fail to take place. The infrastructure that was to be built for the Vostochny spaceport will have to be postponed, too," he said.

Zheleznyakov believes the delivery of the rocket from the Progress space rocket center in Samara to Baikonur will be less costly, because Vostochny is three times farther away than Baikonur. The manned space mission solutions that have been used in Samara for more than 50 years but ignored by Angara’s manufacturer - the Khrunichev Center - will be a major cost saver, too. Also, there will be no need for building a costly new launch pad for a new rocket at Baikonur.

The existing infrastructures for the Zenit rocket will be employed for that purpose.

The cost-cutting solutions will be temporary in any way, Zheleznyakov said. In the longer term the infrastructures at the Vostochny spaceport will have to be created sooner or later.

"I do not think that this solution will allow for saving mammoth funds or making major gains. Yes, some corners will be cut, but the implementation of the space program will be postponed. The funds to be invested into the development of a new rocket and to upgrade and develop infrastructure at Baikonur will be justified and they repay themselves for some time, but we will have to move to Vostochny in the end anyway. We may save today but some day we will have to spend much more on Vostochny," he said.

Angara’s prospects

Zheleznyakov believes that the decision to abandon the manned configuration of the rocket Angara-A5P does not mean that the whole family, however controversial, will be abandoned altogether.

"It would be wrong to say the Angara rocket family is useless. This might be true to a certain extent of the configuration meant for manned missions Angara-A5P. Angara may be criticized. It may be possible that it is not the best of all rockets that we have, but it will not be abandoned altogether. Certain varieties of it will fly. Once the rocket has been made, why rejecting it? After all it has cost 180 billion rubles to make. It would be an unreasonable waste of money. The new leadership of Roscosmos is against that," Zheleznyakov said, adding that the rocket would be used, but not so often and not so widely as it had been originally expected.

He believes that Roscosmos policies displayed a great deal of inconsistency and volatility lately.

"We tend to go to extremes. First we pinned all our expectations on the Angara family only to realize that we made not the best option and we will be making a new rocket," Zheleznyakov said.