Russia to allocate $8 billion to build space center in Far East

Russia will allocate about 250 billion rubles ($8.4 billion) to build the Vostochny space center in Far East, the head of the country’s space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday.

Russia currently uses two launch sites: Baikonur in Kazakhstan, which it has leased since the end of the Soviet Union, and Plesetsk in northwest Russia.

So far ground infrastructure, as well as technical and launch complexes are being designed, Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview with the Kommersant daily.

“About 250 billion rubles are to be allocated for the construction,” he said.

The Russian government earlier said it intended to spend 24.7 billion rubles (around $800 million) during the first three years of the construction of the space center, billed as a “new stage in the development of Russian cosmonautics.”

The construction of Vostochny is scheduled to begin this year and end in 2016, with the first rocket launch to take place in 2015 and the first manned flight due in 2018.

The vast facility in the Amur Region will eventually include two launch pads, a training center and oxygen and hydrogen generation plants.

Popovkin also said the agency is currently studying space launch insurance, following the loss of three Glonass satellites last December. The satellites, meant to conclude the formation of Russia’s Glonass navigation system, were lost when a Proton-M carrier rocket veered off course and crashed in the Pacific Ocean in December.

“The idea is to include the insurance into the satellite’s cost. This is worldwide practice. But every case will be considered individually,” Popovkin said. “We plan to select a group of insurance companies, from which we would choose a suitable one to insure our risks.”

According to expert estimates, the losses from the failed launch could stand at about 2.5 billion rubles ($840 million).

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