Construction of 2nd launch pad at Vostochny Cosmodrome underway
Russian media outlets have reported that construction of a second launch pad at Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East is underway. The new pad, designated Site 1A and dedicated for Angara rocket launches, is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
The state-run TASS press agency reports that the contract for constructing the launch site was recently signed with the Kazan company. The deal, worth about $580 million, will be transferred to the company in two tranches. The agency said the work at the cosmodrome should start in early September 2018.
“The products are to be delivered or works are to be concluded by December 31, 2022,” TASS quotes government documents as indicating.
The new report means another delay for the construction of Site 1A, even though the necessary technological equipment to build the complex was shipped to Vostochny about a year ago. There were plans to begin the construction work in January 2018. That was later postponed to June 2018.
The construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which started in 2011, has been disrupted many times by financial problems, corruption scandals, technical difficulties and even by a workers strike. In February 2018, the former boss of a state contractor responsible for the construction of the cosmodrome, along with several ex-employees, was sentenced to prison for mass corruption.
Vostochny has been given a strategic role for the Russian space program as it is expected to reduce the country’s dependency on Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which is currently on lease to Russia until 2050, costing Russia some $115 million per year.
Roscosmos, the state corporation responsible for spaceflight, intends to utilize Vostochny in the future for a variety of launches, including deep space exploration missions. Overall, seven pads are planned to be built at the Far East location.
Currently, only one pad is operational, Site 1S, and has seen three orbital missions so far. The maiden launch was conducted April 28, 2016, when a Soyuz-2.1a rocket delivered a trio of Russian satellites into space.
Given that the construction of Site 1A faces another delay, the date of the first Angara launch from the pad is still uncertain. Earlier reports indicated the first mission could be performed from this complex in 2021.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.