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Kazakh cosmonauts to complete training in Russia by yearend

RIA Novosti

10/05/2007 14:59 ASTANA, May 10 (RIA Novosti) - Two Kazakh cosmonauts will complete a training course before the yearend, but a date for their flight to the International Space Station has not been fixed, the head of Russia's space agency said Thursday.

Anatoly Perminov, the general director of the Federal Space Agency who is accompanying President Vladimir Putin on a visit to the Central Asian state dominated by crucial energy projects, said: "The training of the Kazakh cosmonauts, which is being conducted free of charge, will be completed this year."

He added their flight to the world's sole civilian orbital station would be on a commercial basis. "The flight will take place, when Kazakhstan is ready, but there are no vacant places on the next few Soyuz flights to the ISS," Perminov said.

Russia rents its main space center, Baikonur, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Speaking at a news conference following talks with Putin, President Nursultan Nazarbayev highlighted issues that concern residents of the nearby town of Baikonur, which is under Russian civilian administration and economic regulations, including medical services, education and religious practices.

"These have been included in an action plan in 2007-2008. And we will tackle these issues through compromise by signing a relevant protocol," Nazarbayev said.

Perminov hailed cooperation in the space sphere with Kazakhstan. He said Russia's leading Khrunichev space center was building Kazakhstan's second satellite, KazSat-2, and was in talks on a series of other spacecraft for the ex-Soviet state.

The two are also working to build a space complex at Baikonur, Baiterek, to launch the Angara launch vehicles capable of carrying 26 metric tons of payload to low-Earth orbits. The project is being implemented on a parity basis and enjoys tax, customs and other privileges. But Russia has reportedly delayed tests of the Angara until 2011 from the earlier date of 2008.

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