April 14, 2013
Putin: First Manned Launch From New Russian Spaceport By End Of 2018
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
The target date for the first manned spaceflight launch at Russia´s planned Vostochny Cosmodrome will be sometime in 2018, President Vladimir Putin told astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.Speaking with Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) station crewmembers via video conference from the building site, Putin said that the new launch pad will help the one-time space exploration pioneer to travel to the moon and deep space, according to Reuters reporter Denis Dyomkin.
Putin said that the spaceport will be made available to Russia´s ISS partner nations in Europe and North America, but that he also hoped that it would allow the nation that sent both the first artificial satellite into orbit and the first human into outerspace to catch up with the US and other modern-day astronomical powers.
“We are lagging behind the world in some areas,” the Russian president said during a tour of the Cosmodrome´s future location in eastern Siberia, according to Dyomkin. “We've developed a noticeable gap from the leading space powers in the technologies of so-called deep space exploration“¦ It's clear that in the 21st century Russia must preserve its status as a leading space power.”
He said that he hopes that the new spaceport will be able to rival the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which is currently used for international launches to the $100 billion orbiting research laboratory. The upkeep of that facility has been Russia´s fiscal responsibility since NASA retired its space shuttle program, and the lease of the spaceport has been a source of contention since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Reuters explained.
The first launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome is reportedly scheduled for 2015, and the site was chosen in part due to its proximity to the Pacific Coast of Russia. That will allow passengers to splash down in water following the completion of their mission, Dyomkin said. Despite the new facility, however, Putin said that Russia will also continue to use the Kazakhstan launching pad until their lease agreement for the facility expires in 2050.
Putin also congratulated the cosmonauts as part of what is known as Space Exploration Day in Russia, telling them, “These are not just any greetings, these are greetings from the construction site of our future.” The president has committed to spending more than $50 billion on space exploration through the year 2020.