Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the site where a new launch facility, the Cosmodrome Vostochny (Eastern), will be constructed outside Uglegorsk.
New launch center locates 5800 kilometers east of Moscow. Russia will launch its manned space missions from a new center in the Far East in 2018, Putin said, as the country seeks greater independence for its space program.
Russia currently uses the Soviet-built Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan for all of its manned space missions and other commercial launches as well as a smaller center in northern Russia for military satellite launches.
Russia has a lease on Baikonur until 2050 and has paid around $115 million to Kazakhstan in rent since the agreement in 2004.
Putin stressed the “strategic” need for Moscow to have “an independent access to the space.” Although Baikonur is located in a “friendly state,” it is still owned by another country, he said.
Russia’s prime minister said on state-run Rossiya channel that Vostochny will host all launches of Russian-manned spacecraft beginning in 2018. Launches of first unmanned spacecraft from the new center are expected in 2015.
Putin described the construction as “one of the biggest and ambitious projects of modern Russia” which “gives opportunity to thousands of young professionals to use their talent.”