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    Kazakh space agency seeks extra funding for new Baikonur launch pad

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    Kazakhstan's national space agency, Kazcosmos, has requested more funding for the joint Russian-Kazakh project to build a new launch pad at the Baikonur space center.

    Kazakhstan's national space agency, Kazcosmos, has requested more funding for the joint Russian-Kazakh project to build a new launch pad at the Baikonur space center.

    In late December 2004, Russia and Kazakhstan signed the deal to build a new launch pad, named Baiterek, to send into space Angara carrier rockets capable of delivering 26 metric tons of payload to low-Earth orbits. The project is being implemented on a parity basis.

    "Today a problem emerged in implementing this project - we have trouble with repaying a budgeting loan, the grace period of which expired in November," the agency's chief, Talgat Musabayev, told Prime Minister Karim Masimov.

    Musabayev requested the premier to convene a special meeting "to address the future funding of the Baiterek [launch] complex."

    Russia and Kazakhstan have reportedly each allocated $223 million for the Baiterek construction.

    Baikonur, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, is the main launch facility for the current generation of Russian rockets and was leased by Russia from Kazakhstan under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia pays an estimated annual fee of $115 million for the use of the space center, which currently has the world's busiest launch schedule.

    Baikonur currently has 15 launch pads for launching both manned and unmanned space vehicles. It supports several generations of Russian spacecraft: Soyuz, Proton, Tsyklon, Dnepr, Zenit and Buran.

    ASTANA, December 6 (RIA Novosti)

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