July 20, 2010

Russia Funding New Spaceport

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that the country would provide $800 million to help jump start the construction of a new cosmodrome to ease its dependence on a Soviet-era launch site in Kazakhstan.

"The government has made a decision to earmark $809 million over the next three years for the start of the full-blown construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome," Putin said in televised remarks at a government meeting.

Russia rents its main Soviet-era spaceport Baikonur from neighboring Kazakhstan. It said it plans to build a new one 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 complete independence of space activities," Putin said at the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the country's main maker of spacecraft.

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

Putin said that Russia will put aside about $3.2 million for its space industry this year, including the development of GLONASS, which is its answer to U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).

He said that he had ordered that foreign scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Boeing, among others, to be given access to Energia rocket maker.

"Together with their Russian colleagues, they will ensure the work of the International Space Station," Putin said in remarks released by the government.

"The same decision has been made in relation to our Ukrainian friends," he added. "They will take part in the work to assemble and test the Soyuz and Progress manned spacecraft."

Russia sent the first man into space in 1961 and launched the first sputnik satellite four years earlier.


Image Caption: Currently Russia rents its main Soviet-era spaceport Baikonur from neighboring Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls


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