News / Europe

Russia to Launch First Manned Space Flight from its Soil in 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a live video link with the International Space Station, April 12, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a live video link with the International Space Station, April 12, 2013.
Reuters
President Vladimir Putin told astronauts in orbit on Friday that Russia will send up the first manned flights from its own soil in 2018, using a new launch pad he said will help the once-pioneering space power explore deep space and the moon.

Speaking by video link with the International Space Station's crew from the building site, Putin said it will be open to use by the United States and Europe, playing up cooperation on the anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's 1961 flight, which set off the Cold War space race.

But with the image of a fiery rocket launch as a backdrop, Putin also said he wants the Vostochny Cosmodrome to help Russia catch up with other powers in exploring beyond Earth's orbit.

"We are lagging behind the world in some areas," Putin said on a tour of the future launch site in eastern Siberia near the border with China. "We've developed a noticeable gap from the leading space powers in the technologies of so-called deep space exploration."

Russia wants Vostochny, where it hopes to exploit a new generation of rockets carrying heavier payloads, to rival its current launch site in Kazakhstan, the lease of which has been in contention since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

Since NASA retired its shuttles last year, Russian rockets blasting off from the Soviet-built Baikonur launch pad provide astronauts around the world with the only ride to the $100-billion research laboratory some 400 kilometers above Earth.

While NASA pays a steep fee for the trip, the upkeep and lease of the Baikonour Cosmodrome comes at Russia's expense.

Congratulating astronauts on what is known in Russia as Space Exploration Day, Putin said, "These are not just any greetings, these are greetings from the construction site of our future."

He said the first launch from Vostochny will be in 2015 and the first manned flight in 2018. The site, near Russia's Pacific Coast, was chosen to allow cosmonauts to splash down on water after their mission.

"I very much hope that it will be used not only by our specialists, but by our colleagues from the United States, Europe and other countries," he said.

"Space is a sphere of activity that allows us to forget about all the difficulties of international relations," said Putin, who has faced criticism from the United States and Europe over human rights since his return to the Kremlin last May.

Even after the new site is built, Putin said Russia will continue to use Baikonour, which it leases at a cost of $115 million a year under a deal that expires in 2050. But he said the facility on Kazakh soil was "physically aged."

Returning to deep space

Putin, whose ambition is to restore Moscow's Soviet-era might, said Russia will spend 1.6 trillion roubles ($52 billion) on space exploration through 2020.

"It's clear that in the 21st century Russia must preserve its status as a leading space power," he said, estimating the size of the space-launch market will grow to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2030 from $300 billion-$400 billion today.

The Soviet Union got a jump on the United States in the space race when it launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, a moon probe in 1959 and Gagarin on his 108-minute orbit in 1961. But Russia has been absent from deep space for more than 20 years.

It bungled the 2011 launch of what was meant to be post-Soviet Russia's interplanetary debut - the Phobos-Grunt Mars moon probe - amid a string of costly botched launches. But it signed a deal last month to join Europe on Mars sampling mission, one of a number of projects that it hopes will help it claw back its reputation in the sector.

Moscow has also revived a long-dormant quest to explore the moon. The launch of the unmanned probe, the Luna-Globe or Moon Globe, is planned to be the first from Vostochny in 2015.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs