Russia May Lose Cosmodrome Lease
December 10, 2012

Russia May Lose Lease On Baikonur Cosmodrome

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Russia's lease with the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch facility in Kazakhstan may be suspended, according to several reports.

Russia has been renting the Baikonur launch pad from Kazakhstan since 1994 and the leasing contract is valid until 2050. However, Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency reported that Kazcosmos head Talgat Musabayev said the rent agreement on Baikonur has "run its course."

Dropping the lease could create uncertainty over how the facility would be administered in the future.

Baikonur is the world's first and largest space launch facility, and is located in the desert area of Kazakhstan.

Russia has been paying $115 million every year in rent for the facility, which hosts over 20 space rocket launches a year.

The site is currently the only one in the world where astronauts can launch towards the International Space Station (ISS), since both NASA and ESA rely on Russia for its Soyuz system. Next week, a three man crew with American, Canadian and Russian astronauts will be launching onboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the facility.

Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency said Musabayev told Parliament on Monday that proposals are being considered to bring the facility under Kazkhstan's jurisdiction.

"The head of state has set us the task and has already agreed with Vladimir Putin to develop a new comprehensive agreement on Baikonur, which can envisage termination of its leasing," Musabayev, the Head of Kazakh's space agency, said in a report by the French Tribune.

According to the report by Interfax, the planned launch of the Zenit vehicles to carry satellites into orbit could be the first to get cancelled.