Kazakhstan Approves More Launches from Baikonur

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Kazakhstan has agreed to raise the ceiling on Russian commercial launches this year from the Baikonur Cosmodrome from 12 to 15, according to Kalamkas Temirova, a spokeswoman for the Kazakh Space Agency.

Russia originally sought permission for 17 commercial missions this year from Baikonur, which is located in the central Asian republic. Kazakhstan initially agreed to 12, triggering a Russian diplomatic push that industry sources say was driven in part by a desire to provide more margin for its commercial launch industry.

Several different Russian rockets operate from Baikonur, including the heavy-lift Proton, a workhorse with a substantial commercial manifest. International Launch Services (ILS), which markets the Proton commercially, launched the Satmex 8 satellite from Baikonur in March, and that mission counts against the 15-launch ceiling, according to Russian sources.

ILS has six more launches scheduled between now and August, part of a total Proton manifest of 12 missions for the remainder of the year, according to industry sources.