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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhstan to Launch $115 m Satellite

ALMATY, Kazakhstan - Kazakhstan plans to launch its own communications satellite at a cost of $110 to $115 million and will play a greater part in Russia's space programme, the head of Kazakhstan's aerospace committee said on Tuesday.

"We're looking at a medium-sized satellite, not a large one, with approximately 20 retransmitters," Meyrbek Moldabekov told a news conference. "Construction could be Russian or Western, whoever wins the tender."

He did not say when the launch would take place. Details of a feasibility study and financing for the project still had to be sorted out.

He said Kazakhstan and Russia had developed a programme for joint space research in the period 2001-2005, which would enable Kazakhstan to play a part in Russia's federal space programme.

A potential Kazakh cosmonaut, Ruslan Mukhamedrakhimov, has already been declared suitable for special training by Russia's centre for training cosmonauts. Kazakhstan has already sent two nationals into space and plans to prepare another two crews.

Moldabekov said Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and possibly Australia were also looking at setting up three space and rocket complexes based around existing equipment at the Baikonur space complex, leased by Russia but located in western Kazakhstan.

Russia will finance a five-year research programme into the impact of the Baikonur complex on the health of the population and the region's ecology.

Moldabekov played down the impact of emissions from rocket launches at Baikonur, saying one launch of a Proton rocket gave off emissions equivalent to 10 cars running for a year.

In 1999 two Proton rockets crashed in Kazakhstan shortly after take off, and Russia paid around $300,000 in compensation for ecological damage.

From this year, Moldabekov said, Russia will pay $115 million per year in cash for renting Baikonur. Until now the rent has been paid in goods and services.