Author`s name Michael Simpson

Plesetsk Starting Complex Banned for Operation

Ecological safety measures are very poor at the space center
Yesterday Anatoly Minyayev, the chief governmental nature protection inspector in Russia's Arkhangelsk region issued instructions in according to which operation of the Rokot missile complex at the Plesetsk space center would be suspended. The decision is explained with the necessity to construct important ecological facilities at a platform of the space center converted especially for the new starting complex.

As the Russki Sever news agency informs, the Rokot exploitation is done in accordance with a project developed by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. Some time ago the project passed the state ecological examination. In addition to the technical part of the starting complex, the project also provided for the obligation to construct a drainage system and cleaning facilities; what is more, it was supposed that an ecological station would be built on the territories where the new starting complex stood. In the summer of 2002, a special check-up was held to find out whether the ecological requirements had been fulfilled. On the results of the check-up a session was held in the Central department of mineral resources and nature protection in Russia's Arkhangelsk region with participation of representatives of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. Realization of the project's ecological part was considered at the session. The engineers, commander-in-chief of the space forces, the Rosaviakosmos space agency and the space center's board were asked a question whether launching of space vehicles from the new starting complex was authorized until ecological arrangement of the ecological and assembly complexes was not completed. However, as reported, no adequate measures were taken to improve the situation; everything remained unchanged until missile launching in April 2003. The space vehicle was successfully launched. But the ecological problem of the space center is not yet settled because of pressure for money.

Vitaly Bratkov

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