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SPACE FLIGHT 2006 - The Year in Review

Other Countries Space Activities


The former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, an independent state since its declaration of sovereignty in 1990, is aspiring to join the select group of space-faring nations. Home of Baikonur, the world's largest rocket launching site, Kazakhstan has been in lengthy political negotiations with Russia, the real owner and operator of Baikonur who has leased the 6717 sq.km of the Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan. Baikonur comprises nine launch complexes with 15 launch pads, 11 assembly & test complexes, 34 technical centers, tanking stations, two airports, a factory for technical gases, two power trains with diesel aggregates for generating electricity, a 600 megawatt heating facility, 470 km of railroad tracks and 1281 km of roadways. There are also several settlements, the largest being the city of Baikonur with 70,000 inhabitants. Today, Kazakhstan is making plans to use these facilities for two satellite launcher projects of its own,- the solid-propellant rocket Ischim, launched from a MiG-31I fighter plane, similar to the US Pegasus, and the carrier rocket Baiterek, a modified version of the new Russian heavy lifter Angara-A5 which is to take the place of today's Proton (first flight probably not before 2011). Project Baiterek is owned by the Russian space firm Khrunichev, manufacturer of Proton, and a special Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Finance, each one at 50%. The Director General of Baiterek is veteran Kazakh cosmonaut Talgat Mussabayev, twice crewmember on the Soviet space station Mir (1994, 1998), and once on the ISS (2001). Kazakhstan's National Air and Space Agency KazCosmos is headed by Toktar Aubakirov, the second Kazakh cosmonaut (1991, Soyuz TM-13). Kazakhstan's first satellite, the 850-kg comsat KazSat 1, was launched on June 18, 2006, on a Proton-K in the presence of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nasarbayev and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.


In Latin America, Brazil has the most advanced space program, with capabilities in launch vehicles, launch sites, and satellite manufacturing, although little funding. An agreement in 2004 with Russia concerned the expansion of cooperative efforts in space, including the joint development and production of launch vehicles, the launch of geostationary satellites and the joint development and utilization of Brazil's Alc'ntara Launching Center (Centro de Lan'amento de Alc'ntara, CLA) in Maranh'o.


In Canada, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) continued supporting work on its contribution to the ISS partnership, the Mobile Service System (MSS), consisting of the 3960 lbs (1800 kg) Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Canadarm2, the Mobile Base System (MBS), and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM). Canada also has an active Canadian Astronaut Program for flights to the ISS.
In 2006, Canada's Radarsat-1 "eye-in-the-sky" celebrated its eleventh anniversary in orbit. Launched on November 4, 1995, the sophisticated radar platform was expected to operate only five years, and the quality of images it captured exceeded the standards of the time. It is still operating and surpassing the standards. Radarsat-1 was built to catalogue the vast expanse of Canada's Arctic. It does this quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively, providing 3,800 images per year to the Canadian Ice Service, the largest of its 600 clients. Over the years, it has delivered precision images and claimed 15% of the world's Earth observation market for Canada. Development of Radarsat-2, equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) with multiple polarization modes is under development for launch in summer 2007 on a Russian Soyuz launch vehicle by CSA. Its highest resolution will be 3 m with 100 m positional accuracy.