“Russian Space Center in Kazakhstan Counts Down Its Days of Glory
Published: June 18, 2013
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan — On a sultry desert evening, as bats fluttered about this town’s riverfront park, a man emerged from a reedy marsh carrying a bundle of grass tied with twine.
Setting it down to brush himself off, he explained that he was keeping a calf in the courtyard of an apartment building across town, where he had settled in recently after the previous occupants, engineers with the Russian space program, moved out…”
Cassi Creek: Despite the billions of dollars and rubles spent during the Space Race the U.S. space exploration program is waiting for an administration and a Congress with greater interest in scientific research than with enriching corporations. The rocketry that took us to the moon and back is no longer available. The former “space coast” is no longer mobbed by people anxious to see shuttle and other launches. The rocket scientists have largely retired and left the area or migrated to what remains of NASA.
It appears that Baikonur is rapidly returning to the third world region that it was until the USSR wanted a place to build and launch rockets secretly. Now their Germans are long gone and the launch and return technology is decades out of date with little hope of improving. Only money from NASA and the European space program keep the launches happening for the Cosmodrome.
The only active program now building heavy launch vehicles is the DPRC. That, frankly, scares me. It should scare everyone. It is not yet time to privatize space exploration. Nor is it time for the United States or Russia to allow China to gain ascendency in space exploration at any range.