Why does Russia lease the Kazakh Baikonur, although we have our own spaceports?


Built in 1955, Baikonur is still a key cosmodrome for Russia. Today it is located on the territory of Kazakhstan, and our country has to rent it for 10 billion rubles a year,

But despite the high cost of the project and remoteness from the Russian borders, Roscosmos continues to invest in Baikonur.

Baikonur was founded in 1955 on the territory of the Kazakh SSR with funds from the Soviet Union. The place was chosen for a long time — it was necessary to find areas that were not inhabited and not used for agricultural land.

The cosmodrome became the pride of the Union. It was from here that Belka and Strelka were sent into space, the world’s first artificial satellite was launched, and Gagarin flew into orbit. It is still the largest rocket launch site in the world.

After the collapse of the USSR, difficult times came for Baikonur. The workers were hastily leaving the station, it was not clear who would own the spaceport, the infrastructure of nearby villages fell into decay.

In 1994, Kazakhstan leased the cosmodrome to Russia until 2050.

Therefore, if our country suddenly breaks down with friendly Kazakhstan today, then Baikonur may be lost. It may take tens of billions of rubles to restore access to space. And there is nowhere to get them from the underfunded industry.

Our country wants to transfer the platform for space exploration to its territory, but so far this is impossible. All Russian cosmodromes are inferior to Baikonur in terms of capabilities and modernization.

In addition to Baikonur, Russia has 3 sites at its disposal

Soyuz is located in South America and belongs jointly to Europe and Russia, therefore it cannot be considered as a “home” cosmodrome.

Vostochny is the most promising Russian cosmodrome

However, Vostochny also has many problems. The launches of manned objects will take place over the Pacific Ocean. This will require Russia to maintain not only the cosmodrome, but also a large number of rescue ships.

In addition, there is no infrastructure around the cosmodrome, engineers and astronauts have nowhere to live. This requires additional funds, which the country does not have. 100 billion rubles have already been spent on construction, and on a complete modernization

So it turns out that Russia cannot abandon Baikonur and is forced to pay for its use, and it is also impossible to spend more funds on its modernization: if Kazakhstan takes the cosmodrome for itself, the investments will evaporate. We can only hope that by 2050 we will complete the construction of Vostochny and move there.

What do you think about the Soviet legacy? Do we need to build a new spaceport or is it better to negotiate the extension of the old contracts? Write your opinions in the comments! And also read: