Sunday, September 2, 2018

Construction of Vostochny’s Second Launch Pad Underway

Soyuz-2.1a rocket awaits its launch at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Photo Credit: Roscosmos.

Russian media outlets inform that the construction of the second launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East is underway. The new pad, designated Site 1A and dedicated for the launches of Angara rockets, is planned to be completed till the end of 2022.

The state-run TASS press agency reports that the contract for building the launch site has been recently signed with the Kazan company. The deal is worth about $580 million that will be transferred to the company in two tranches. The agency noted that the works at the cosmodrome should start in early September 2018 and should end by 2023.

"The products are to be delivered or works are to be concluded by December 31, 2022," TASS quotes the government documents as saying.

The new reports mean another delay for the construction of Site 1A, even though the necessary technological equipment to build the complex was shipped to Vostochny about one year ago. There were plans to begin the works in January 2018, what was later postponed to June 2018.

The construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which started in 2011, has been disrupted many times by financial problems, corruption scandals, technical difficulties, and even by a workers strike. Lately, in February 2018, the former boss of a state contractor responsible for the construction of Vostochny Cosmodrome, along with several ex-employees, was sentenced to prison for mass corruption.

Vostochny has been given a strategic role for the Russian space program as it is expected to reduce the country’s dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, currently on lease to Russia until 2050. This costs Russia approximately $115 million per year.

Roscosmos intends to utilize Vostochny in the future for a variety of space launches, including deep space exploration missions. Overall, seven launch pads are planned to be built at the site.

The cosmodrome has currently one operational launch pad – Site 1S – which has seen three orbital missions so far. The maiden launch was conducted on April 28, 2016, when a Soyuz-2.1a rocket delivered a trio of Russian satellites into space.

Given that the construction of Site 1A faces another delay, the date of the first Angara launch from the pad is still uncertain. Earlier reports said that the first mission could be conducted from this complex in 2021.

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