Russia to launch first space rocket from Vostochny pad in late April

2016-03-30 16:03
File: Vostochny cosmodrome. (Supplied)

File: Vostochny cosmodrome. (Supplied)

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Moscow - Russia will launch its first space rocket from the newly built Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East sometime within the last 10 days of April, Igor Komarov, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said on Wednesday.

The new Vostochny launch facility, whose name translates as "Eastern", is expected to serve as Russia's principal launch site and thus reduce the national space industry's dependence on Kazakhstan's Soviet-built Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia leases for a reported $115m a year.

Komarov also said he expects the International Space Station to be transformed into a "new station" with a "new configuration" after its current operational period is over, according to state news agency TASS.

The current space station is mainly operated by five spaces agencies representing the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada. Komarov suggested that other countries could join the new station.

Russia and the United States have earlier said the current space station's operational period could end in 2024, TASS reported.

Russia has conducted a series of tests of its Vostochny facility and nearly completed the assessment of the results, Komarov said.

The site's first mission is set to launch research satellites into orbit.

Komarov expects Vostochny to be "heavily loaded with commercial launches" in 2018 to 2020, TASS reported.

"We will begin to reach full capacity in 2018. We hope to achieve no less than five launches in 2018, and in the future eight to 10 launches for not only the federal space programme but also commercial launches," Komarov was quoted as saying.

The Vostochny Cosmodrome has been plagued with numerous delays and allegations of mass embezzlement since its construction began in 2012. Media reports have estimated the total construction costs at 3 billion dollars.

President Vladimir Putin in 2014 demanded that the cosmodrome be ready for its first launch in late 2015, but then in October 2015 he visited the facility and officially postponed the launch to sometime early this year.

Read more on:    iss  |  roscosmos  |  russia  |  space

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