Russia to construct new spaceport

By Richard High20 July 2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced plans to construct a US$ 790 million spaceport in Amur Oblast.

Announcing the decision on state television during a visit to the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the country's main spacecraft manufacturer, Mr Putin said the new spaceport would reduce Russia's dependence on a Soviet-era launch site in Kazakhstan.

"The government has made a decision to earmark RUB 24.7 billion (US$ 790 million) over the next three years for the start of the full-blown construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome," said Mr Putin.

Russia currently pays US$ 115 million to rent its main Soviet-era spaceport at Baikonur from neighbouring Kazakhstan. The government has previously said it wanted to construct a new spaceport near the town of Uglegorsk in the Far Eastern Amur region, and it should come online by 2015.

"I very much expect that Vostochny will become the first national cosmodrome for civilian use and guarantee Russia full independence of space activities," added Mr Putin.

"It is important that the cosmodrome will effectively ensure the operation of all promising space projects, including planned interplanetary flights," said Mr Putin.

Construction of the 550 km2 spaceport is expected to begin in 2011 and be completed in 2018.

There are plans to build seven launch pads at the 30 km diameter site, including two for manned flights and two for space freighters. An inter-agency working group for managing the construction has been created, and work to design elements of the cosmodrome's infrastructure is in progress.

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