Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov on Wednesday arrived at the Russian spaceport Baikonur (in the territory of Kazakhstan).
The minister intends to study the state of affairs at the spaceport and also to assess its possibilities to fulfil the tasks in the 21st century for ensuring the defence and security of Russia.
Formed by the decision of the Soviet government in February 1955, Scientific-Research Proving Ground No. 5 of the Defence Ministry is known to the whole world as Baikonur spaceport, from which cosmonauts took off into space.
From this spaceport the world's first artificial satellite was launched, and in April 1961 for the first time man went into space - he was Yury Gagarin.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union the spaceport found itself in the territory of Kazakhstan. Under the agreements, signed by the Presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan on March 28, 1994, Baikonur was granted on lease to Russia for twenty years. Now the question is being discussed to prolong the treaty.
As chief of the spaceport Lieutenant General Leonid Baranov told reporters, in 2002 there were launched 15 space rockets, 22 space apparatus were orbited and two inter-continental ballistic missiles were launched.
In 2003, it is planned to launch at least 20 space rockets. According to the Commander of the Space Forces Colonel General Anatoly Perminov, in the near future Baikonur will accomplish the tasks of ensuring the launches of the heavy class rocket-carriers Proton, of the middle class Soyuz and Zenit, of the light class Tsiklon and of the conversion Dnieper.
It is planned to form new and maintain the existing facilities of the Baikonur's space infrastructure jointly with the Rosaviacosmos (Russian Aviation and Space Agency).