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Kazakhstan Plays Down Baikonur Spat
by Staff Writers
Astana, Kazakhstan (RIA Novosti) Nov 26, 2009

File image.

Kazakhstan moved to play down a spat with Russia over a delay in a rocket launch from the Russian-leased space center in the Central Asian republic earlier this week, saying it was a result of a misunderstanding.

Russia's launch of a European communications satellite on a Proton rocket from Baikonur was delayed from Monday until late Tuesday, which sparked a bitter exchange of accusations between the two ex-Soviet nations.

"There has been no scandal around the launch. It was a typical misunderstanding. One side had put an inaccurately worded phrase in documents, and the other had to change a whole range of procedures as a result," Talgat Musabayev, head of Kazcosmos space agency told reporters, adding the two countries should streamline organizational procedures.

Kazcosmos accused Russia's space agency on Monday of constantly changing launch plans, which led to the delay in the Proton-M blast.

Roscosmos said it had submitted all documents in time and blamed its Kazakh partners for slowly issuing government approvals for launches.

"This is not the first time the launch of a spacecraft has been threatened with failure for reasons not depending on Russia," Roscosmos said.

Musabayev said on Wednesday that "Kazakhstan has remained Russia's reliable partner," and Kazcosmos hopes "its Russian brothers and friends" will help the country join the club of space powers.

Russia rents the Soviet-built launching facility in Kazakhstan since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, paying an annual rent of $115 million.

Its activities in the area have been marred by Proton accidents and Kazakhstan's complaints about toxic pollution. Russia is building a new launching site in the Far East to cut its reliance on Baikonur.

Source: RIA Novosti


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