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Satnews Daily
March 31st, 2016

First Launch Scheduled For Late April For Russia's Vostochny Spaceport

The mobile service tower at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Photo is courtesy of Mikhail Metzel/TASS.

[Satnews] Builders have started the final stage of work at the Vostochny spaceport in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region—the site improvement, the press service of Dalspetsstroy (a branch of the Russian Federal Agency for Special Construction) reported on Thursday in a news story published by the Russian news agency, TASS.

The construction of the Vostochny space launch center in the Amur region began in 2012. The total area of the cosmodrome is 700 square km. It is destined to become the first national facility for civilian space launches, ensuring Russia’s full-scale access to space and reducing the dependence of the Russian space industry on the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

The first liftoff from Vostochny was initially scheduled for late December last year, but was rescheduled for 2016. Now it is tentatively planned for late April. The Mikhailo Lomonosov and Aist-2D satellites, as well as the nanosatellite SamSat-218, will be the first to be launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome with the help of Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket to transmit scientific experimental data to the Earth.

Last October, Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the construction site of the Vostochny cosmodrome and criticized delays in the schedule of works and weak control over 130 construction firms engaged in the project. Plans are afoot to create a heavy-class space and rocket center for the launches of unmanned space vehicles and as part of a manned flight program. The cosmodrome is expected to be fully commissioned in 2020.

According to previous reports, the first launch from the Vostochny spaceport may occur on April 28-29, but the final date will be determined at a meeting of the state commission on April 4. The new cosmodrome’s launch facility successfully passed comprehensive tests on March 21-25.

"Improvement is the final stage of the work that includes a set of activities: roadway improvement [if necessary], development of sidewalks, landscaping — the arrangement of lawns, planting coniferous and deciduous trees and ornamental shrubs," the press service said. "Employees of Russia’s Spetsstroy also continue the work on the facilities that are not involved in the first launch of a carrier rocket — the facility for the storage of rocket fuel components, a meteorological complex, the second stage of the industrial construction and maintenance base, the residential properties’ construction area."