Kazakhstan protests over space crash

The last time this happened, there was evidence of sabotage. From Reuters, Sept. 7:

NEAR ZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan, home to Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, accused Moscow on Friday of not doing enough to ensure the safety of its space launches a day after a Russian rocket crashed in the Central Asian state.

No one was hurt when the unmanned Proton booster, filled with highly toxic heptyl fuel, rammed into open countryside near the industrial city of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan.

But the accident raised concerns about ecological damage and prompted Kazakhstan to halt all Proton launches pending an investigation.

The coincidental proximity of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was in the region on a visit at the time of the crash, also fuelled the government’s anger.

“We have to prepare for very serious talks with Russia because this is absolutely outrageous,” Prime Minister Karim Masimov told a government meeting in the capital Astana.

This may come at an inopportune time for Putin, who has been making gains in prying the hydrocarbon resources of post-Soviet lands—particularly Kazakhstan—from Western hands. We have noted Kazakhstan’s recent tilt to Moscow. Reuters also reported Sept. 6: “Kazakhstan warned an ENI-led consortium of Western oil majors the Kazakh state oil company could take a greater role in the Kashagan oilfield following a row over the project’s delays and cost overruns.” The EU is negotiating on the consortium’s behalf.

See our last posts on Kazakhstan, the politics of Central Asia and the new space race.