News / Europe

Putin Orders Expedited Building of New Russian Spaceport

From right: Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin, Russian Space Agency chief Oleg Ostapenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin walk during a visit to a construction site of Vostochny Cosmodrome, in the Amur region, Russia, Sept. 2, 2014.
From right: Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin, Russian Space Agency chief Oleg Ostapenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin walk during a visit to a construction site of Vostochny Cosmodrome, in the Amur region, Russia, Sept. 2, 2014.
Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered that construction be sped up on a multi-billion-dollar spaceport in Russia's Far East, which he said would break reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and launch future missions to the Moon and Mars.

Putin flew in a helicopter over the sprawling building site in Vostochny at a time when conflict with Ukraine, maker of Zenit and Dnepr rockets, is highlighting the fragility of Russia's dependence on former Soviet republics in defense and space.

Building a new launchpad on its own soil is central to Putin's effort to reform a once-pioneering space industry hobbled by years of budget cuts and a brain drain in the 1990s.

“Our own space infrastructure and modern network of cosmodromes ... will allow Russia to strengthen its standing as a leading space superpower and guarantee the independence of space activities,” Putin said at Vostochny, near Russia's border with China.

Major expenditure

Taking to task officials, Putin said construction was lagging behind by up to three months, and the 6,000 workers currently at the site are half as many as needed.

“In the future, the capacity of the cosmodrome will be expanded ... to be used to realize programs to explore the Moon, Mars and other space objects,” he said.

Russia has already plowed some 100 billion rubles into construction of the new spaceport, Putin said, to replace the Baikonur site, which it has leased from Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He said another 50 billion rubles is earmarked for the project through 2015, which is hefty spending for a budget strained by the cost of annexing Ukraine's Crimea region and an economy stuttering under Western sanctions.

Despite Russia's current financial woes, a senior official tasked with overseeing the space industry vowed the country would not back down from investment in space.

“Despite the decrease in budgetary funds and the pressure on Russia from sanctions, this plan is unchangeable,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters.

In July, Russia launched its first new design of a space rocket entirely built within post-Soviet Russia's borders, from the northern military cosmodrome of Plesetsk.

A potential commercial rival to rockets made by Arianespace of France and Californian-based SpaceX, a heavier version of the modular Angara launcher is designed to replace Russia's workhorse Proton rocket, which has suffered an embarrassing litany of failures.

While it is due to be tested at Plesetsk later this year, Russia hopes to launch the new rockets from Vostochny, where  proximity to the equator would allow for a 20-percent heavier payload on launch vehicles.

 

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South 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