Russia will use the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan until 2050, the head of the Russian space agency said Saturday. ( RIA Novosti )
"The Russian president has set the task to use the Baikonur space center in full until 2050. We have approved of the proposal," Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos, told journalists on Cosmonautics Day.
Baikonur, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, was first leased by Russia from Kazakhstan under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian officials have repeatedly said Russia would continue to use the Baikonur launch site until at least 2050.
Baikonur mayor Alexander Mezentsev said earlier the number of spacecraft to be launched from the space center will increase 33%, year-on-year, in 2008 to a total of 28. He said Russia launched a total of 21 carrier rockets from the site in 2007.
At present, Russia and Kazakhstan are working to build a space complex at Baikonur, Baiterek, to launch Angara carrier rockets capable of delivering 26 metric tons of payload into low-Earth orbits. The project is being implemented on a parity basis and enjoys tax, customs and other privileges.
Kazakhstan and Russia have reportedly each allocated $223 million for the construction of the Baiterek launch site under a 2004 agreement.
Russia celebrated Cosmonautics Day on April 12 in honor of the historic first manned space flight made by Soviet cosmonaut Yury Gagarin in 1961.