Back in July a Proton rocket crashed spectacularly a few seconds after take-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Not helping matters was the thousands of gallons of highly-toxic Heptyl rocket fuel that exploded and was spread over the surrounding area.
Now the Kazakhstan government has sent a bill to the Russians, who build the Proton rocket, to pay for the clean-up.
However, there are other, perhaps more serious consequences to the event. Officially, the Kazakhs want to limit the number of Proton launches to a maximum of 8 in a year, which is already covered by an agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan. Moreover, the Kazakhs want that number reduced, and the Proton rocket system replaced. If either of these elements were to happen it could severely impact the number of ‘Western’ launches handled by International Launch Services (ILS).
This year there are a planned 15 Proton launches from Baikonur.
“I won’t announce the amount of damages billed for the last accident, not to stir up the society, but our committee has calculated the ecological damage, and presented it to our Russian partners. Our Russian partners are now discussing the bill, estimating whether our calculation of damages is acceptable for them. This is a matter of negotiations. We’ll see how Russia reacts,” said Vice-Minister of Environment and Water Resources of Kazakhstan Bektas Mukhamedzhanov.