Putin delays inaugural Vostochny Cosmodrome launch
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome on Wednesday, Oct. 14, to inspect construction work at the spaceport and chair a session on its development. He decided to postpone the date of Russia’s first space launch from the Cosmodrome by four months, pushing the launch into early 2016.
“Let’s set our sights on a first launch in 2016, sometime in spring. It would be good to time this for Cosmonautics Day, but there should be no mad rush if this is not possible. Work steadily and calmly to meet the deadline that will be set soon, but just let me know what that deadline will be. Is this agreed?” Putin said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the space industry promised the first launch would be conducted in April.
“Yes. We will be ready by mid-April,” Rogozin told Putin.
Putin then replied that the April deadline is not an imperative. He asked Rogozin to do the calculations and come up with an optimum deadline. The president also ordered to finalize the water supply, electric power, and water disposal systems of the spaceport and to prepare for launching space vehicles.
Putin chaired a conference with the government members who supervise the spaceport construction and with the contractors to discuss issues linked with the construction works, preparations for the first launch, and, issues of social maintenance of those who take part in the construction works.
The Cosmodrome is being built near the village of Uglegorsk in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur Region. Construction on the site should be completed by the end of November 2015.
The construction has been delayed by faulty construction, repeated corruption scandals, and worker strikes. Up to 130 construction companies are involved in the state-funded project as subcontractors, Putin said, adding that they were loosely controlled. He urged those in charge to assure the quality of construction works and screen specialists on the task force.
“Let me say again that we must make an effort to keep to our plans for starting work at the space launch center. We should not do things in a sudden hasty burst just to get them finished on time, however. After all, given the importance and technically complex nature of this project, we must ensure the needed quality of construction work, the highest reliability, and of course, the safety of all infrastructure at the site,” Putin said.
He added that other similar spaceports in other countries were also suffering from a series of delays when being constructed.
“I know that at other facilities, including sites abroad, there were similar if not even longer delays, including at the site in French Guiana. We know this, but we need to try to keep to our own deadlines rather than look at how things have gone elsewhere and what delays were encountered,” Putin noted.
Vostochny is intended to eventually become Russia’s primary space launch facility, replacing the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which Russia leases for about $115 million per year.
Putin also revealed that he hopes for international cooperation in the space industry at the Cosmodrome.
“Of course, we hope to develop international cooperation too. We already have broad international cooperation, and we need to make sure that our partners get the chance to see for themselves that Vostochny is one of the best places for working together. We will develop the center’s capabilities,” he said.
The construction of the spaceport, extending to an area of 270 square miles (700 square kilometers), began in mid-2012. Putin last visited Vostochny in September 2014. The president controls construction work and takes part in the settlement of problems emerging during construction work.
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