Sunday, September 10, 2017

Russia Sees Vostochny as Deep Space Exploration Hub

A Soyuz 2.1a rocket roars skyward on the first launch at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Russia intends to explore deep space from the Vostochny cosmodrome in the country’s Far East. Latest statements made by Russian officials show that Roscosmos pushes forward with building there a necessary infrastructure for interplanetary missions.

Russian state-run press agency TASS reports that Roscosmos wants to make Vostochny capable of launching super-heavy rockets with interplanetary spacecraft. Therefore, the cosmodrome could be used in the future for a variety of space launches, including deep space exploration missions.

"There are plans for building infrastructures of super-heavy rockets capable of putting in space interplanetary spacecraft," Roscosmos officials said.

Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed on Thursday that Russia is interested in sending these deep space mission from Vostochny in cooperation with other countries. In particular, Roscosmos is specially interested in exploration of Mars by 2030 jointly with U.S. partners. The space agency announced that it will inform the public about specific agreements on these missions when more details are available.

"We cooperate with partners on a variety of subjects. We discuss the Moon and Mars. Working groups keep in touch. Discussion is in progress on advancing these projects and on the format of each country’s participation," Roscosmos officials said.

The development of Vostochny Space Center started in 2011 and the first launch from the cosmodrome’s Site 1S was conducted on April 28, 2016. Vostochny’s two other launch pads designed for heavier rockets, named PU1 and PU2, are still under construction. 

According to Roscosmos head Igor Komarov, the construction of the second phase of the Vostochny cosmodrome will require 38 billion rubles ($636 million). First liftoff of the Angara-A5M heavy rocket from the cosmodrome’s PU1 launch site is currently scheduled for 2021.

First technological equipment for the launch of the Angara-A5M heavy rockets has been delivered to Vostochny in mid-September 2017.

"Preliminary works are already underway for preparing the site and for replanting of the endangered plants [from the construction zone], and this year we plan to start the preparation for the launch pad [construction]," Komarov said in September.

Next launch from Vostochny is planned to be carried out on November 28 when a Soyuz-2.1b rocket will send three Russian satellites and several CubeSats into space.

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