August 29, 2010
Russia Plans New Launching Site
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that the country hopes to launch manned rockets from its new Vostochny cosmodrome located in the far east of Russia as early as 2018.
"The first manned flights from the cosmodrome should take place in 2018-2020," Putin was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Russia currently uses the Soviet-built Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan for its manned space missions and other commercial launches.
Currently, Russia pays Kazakhstan about $115 million every year in order to use Baikonur.
Putin said that the construction of Vostochny is one of the "most ambitious projects in modern Russia."
He stressed the "strategic" need for Moscow to have "an independent access to the space."
The facility should be ready by 2015 to start launching satellites and cargo to the International Space Station.
Putin described the contraction as "one of the biggest and ambitious projects of modern Russia" which "gives opportunity to thousands of young professionals to use their talent."
Putin said during a visit to the site last month that the Russian government plans to invest $800 billion into building Vostochny.
Image Caption: Currently Russia rents its main Soviet-era spaceport Baikonur from neighboring Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
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