MOSCOW, August 11 (Itar-Tass) — For the creation of the Vostochny spaceport in the Amur region it is planned to allocate about 250 billion roubles, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview published by the Kommersant newspaper on Thursday.
“The creation of a cosmodrome is a rather expensive thing. As of today, the designing of the ground-based infrastructure, technical, and launch complex and support systems is underway,” the Federal Space Agency head noted. “The construction of the latter is to begin already this year. Roads will be built there.”
“As soon as the image of a new rocket develops the launch pad construction will be started, and the drop area zones will be determined,” he said. “In all, it is currently planned to allocate about 250 billion roubles for the spaceport’s creation.”
Speaking about the prospects of the Baikonur cosmodrome, which is leased until 2050, Popovkin said that “the potential of this spaceport today is sufficient for operation of its facilities for decades ahead.” “Vostochny is a spaceport of tomorrow. You cannot transfer there the entire Baikonur infrastructure, and this is not necessary,” said the Russian Federal Space Agency chief. “There will be new designs at Vostochny, a new history. And the new Angara rocket will be flying both from the Vostochny and from Baikonur.”
“Had Russia seen no sense in the ‘most operating’ cosmodrome of the world, it would not begin the creation of the Baiterek complex there from which the same Angara will be launched,” Popovkin said. “After all, the Vostochny spaceport is being built in order to exclude political risks in the future.”
As for the prospects for the use of the Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, then, according to Popovkin, “On October 20, 2011, this rocket will be launched from the Guiana Space Centre, and its payload will be two spacecraft of the Galileo navigation system that will be orbited.
“The Russian side has fulfilled all obligations to its partners in this sphere – in late July, it once again reaffirmed its readiness for the beginning of the launch campaign,” Popovkin said. “In mid-August the preparation of the Fregat upper stage will begin, and then the preparation of the launch vehicle and launch pad will be continued.”
The Vostochny Cosmodrome (Eastern Spaceport) is to be located at 51 degrees north in the Amur region. It is intended to reduce Russia’s dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan. The construction is expected to be completed in 2018.
The cosmodrome will be located in the Svobodny and Shimanovsk districts of the Amur region, on the watershed of the Zeya and Bolshaya Pyora rivers. The planned total area is 551.5 square km, being a region approximately 30 km in diameter. The nearest city is Uglegorsk. Vostochny’s geographic location at 51 degrees north means that, to a given orbit, rockets will be able to carry almost the same amount of payload, as they can when launched from Baikonur. Other arguments for choosing this location include the ability to use sparsely populated areas and bodies of water for the rocket launch routes; proximity to major transportation networks such as the Baikal-Amur Mainline, the Chita-Khabarovsk highway; abundance of electricity production resources in the area; and the presence of the infrastructure of the former Svobodny Cosmodrome, on which the new spaceport will be based. The site’s location close to the Pacific Ocean will allow for easier transport of materials to the site, and will allow rockets to jettison their lower stages over the ocean.
It is planned to build seven launch pads at the site, including two for manned flights and two for space freighters. Construction began in January 2011 and is expected to be completed by 2018. The first unmanned launch will take place in 2015. Russian engineers are looking to apply the knowledge gained from building the Soyuz launch facilities in Kourou spaceport and the Angara pad at Naro Space Centre in South Korea. As a cost-saving measure, no defensive military structures like those at Baikonur cosmodrome will be built at Vostochny.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made several statements emphasising the importance of the new cosmodrome. “The creation of a new space centre … is one of modern Russia’s biggest and most ambitious projects,” he said in August 2010. In January 2011, he ordered the government to complete the paperwork as soon as possible so that construction can start on schedule.
The development of the new site is also expected to dramatically increase employment in the towns of Uglegorsk, Svobodny and others. According to a 2009 estimate, the construction will cost 400 billion roubles ($13.5 billion). Along with the launch pads and processing facilities, an airport and a satellite city will be constructed. The city will be designed to accommodate for 35,000 people as well as for tourists. It will contain a full supporting infrastructure with schools, kindergartens and clinics. Architect Dmitry Pshenichnikov has stated that the city is to become a “one-of-its-kind scientific and tourist space town with a unique design and a beautiful landscape.” When completed, the cosmodrome will permanently employ 20,000-25,000 people.