Samara, Volga: Russia will launch manned spacecraft from a new space centre in Russia''s Far East from 2018, according to first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov. Ivanov was speaking at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission in Samara, in the Volga region.
"On November 6, the Russian president signed a decree on the construction of a new space centre, to be named Vostochny, in the Amur region," Sergei Ivanov said.
"We are planning to launch the first spacecraft from Vostochny in 2015, and by 2018 to start launching manned spacecraft from the new space centre," Ivanov said. He did not reveal details on the costs of the project, but said it would be at par with the construction of a new town, and added that construction could take about 10 years.
Ivanov is in charge of Russia''s military-industrial complex.
Russia currently uses two sites for launches of carrier rockets and for ballistic missiles tests. While the Baikonur space centre in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan handles Russia''s space launches, the Plesetsk space centre in northwest Russia handles its ballistic missile launches.
All Soyuz manned spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS) are launched from Baikonur, which it has leased from Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ivanov confirmed that Russia would continue to use the Baikonur launch site until at least 2020, and would also build new facilities at the Kazakh centre under the joint Baiterek project to support launches of the future Angara family of launch vehicles.
Speaking at the meeting, Ivanov stressed that urgent measures needed to be taken to develop the country as a leading space power, rather than as a provider of launch services for other countries.
"I would like to stress that Russia should not turn into a country providing only launching services - a kind of space hauler, although this alarming trend has been taking shape lately," Ivanov said.
"This trend may become a reality, unless proper measures are taken urgently to develop all aspects of space activities," he said.