Putin lays out priorities of Russia’s space program on Cosmonautics Day
Russian President Vladimir Putin made remarks regarding essential elements of his nation’s space program on Thursday, April 12, when the country celebrated Cosmonautics Day.
Cosmonautics Day in Russia celebrates the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first person to orbit the Earth. For Russian officials, the day is considered to be the perfect occasion to recall the achievements of the country’s space program – and to outline potential future goals.
This year, Putin visited the Cosmos pavilion at the all-Russian Center of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) in Moscow, where he made remarks about Russia’s future space exploration plans. In one of his first statements, Putin declared when the first tests of a new super-heavy rocket will be carried out.
“The super-heavy rocket, the first trial is planned in 10 years,” Putin said.
These tests are currently planned to be conducted at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. However, Putin added that in order to perform these trials, a special infrastructure is needed there, including a dedicated launch compound.
“One more launch pad needs to be created at the Vostochny Space Launch Center,” the Russian president acknowledged.
Putin went on to note that work on the rocket and the launch site required to support it – should be carried out simultaneously.
“When we discussed all these issues, we agreed that one project should be synchronized with the other, so that we can have the launch pads and rockets simultaneously. Otherwise it makes no sense,” Putin said.
Answering questions from cosmonauts, including Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, Putin also promised to push ahead with the nation’s lunar program. He noted that the first step of a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 is creating a space station in lunar orbit. He was referring to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway – an international cislunar space station.
“A Moon orbiter will come first. Then modules on the Moon itself will emerge. At least that is what the plans are. I hope they will come true,” Putin revealed.
The Russian president added that the super-heavy rocket is planned to play a major role in Russia’s lunar program as well as the next-generation spacecraft known as “Federation.” RKK Energia, the spacecraft’s manufacturer, plans to complete the construction of the first vessel by 2021.
In addition to remarks regarding the super-heavy rocket and lunar program, Putin also told the crowd that Russia has no intention of withdrawing from international cooperation in space. The statement came when tensions between Moscow and the West are rising and there are concerns that this growing tension could jeopardize international space projects, like the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.
“We are not going to upset anything or to quit these programs. We are determined to complete them. We have partners in the exploration of Mars and the Moon – the United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union,” Putin said.
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