On September 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the unfinished Vostochny Cosmodrome construction site in the Amur region in Russia’s Far East.
The Vostochny Cosmodrome has been under construction since 2010. It was expected to be completed in 2018. The finalization of the project was repeatedly delayed because of various issues, including the corruption ones.
Several unmanned launches have taken place from the Vostochny Cosmodrome since 2016. The first manned launch was originally set for 2018. However, the works are still ongoing. Roscosmos’ Evgeny Rogozin said that the space centre is scheduled to be ready in 2023 and would cost 38.8 billion rubles ($590m) to finish. The key works are now ongoing on the launch site for Angara rockets.
During inspection, Putin told the space industry’s officials that he expects a “more responsible attitude” from them. The President announced that the first super heavy-lift launch vehicle should blast off into space from the spaceport in 2028. He also underlined the importance of developing a medium-lift launch vehicle.
“I expect a more responsible attitude from you and a more dynamic pace of work.,” Putin told space officials, adding that “all deadlines absolutely have to be met.”
“I would like to note the following right away: when developing new equipment, it is necessary to make sure it is competitive, both in terms of specifications and price. This requirement applies not only to rocket systems. In general, I ask you to focus on optimising the cost of the products manufactured by Roscosmos companies, and also to work out measures that in the future will reduce the cost of space systems and space launches while ensuring their quality and certainly absolute reliability. This is the number one priority for our entire space industry.
Now about Vostochny Space Launch Centre. Today I am expecting a detailed report on the current stage of the construction of its facilities and how the deadlines are being met. Once again, I would like to emphasise: the entire ground infrastructure under construction here must meet state-of-the-art requirements and standards, to launch our future advanced systems.
Five launches have already been made from Vostochny. Now its capacities must, I want to emphasise this, must be used to the fullest. I know that Roscosmos has such plans for the next year, and we just talked about this with the head of Roscosmos. I would also like to hear more about these plans today.
I know that there is still a lot to be done for the space centre’s further development. I expect a more responsible attitude from you and a more dynamic pace of work. All deadlines absolutely have to be met, including the first flight using a super heavy-lift launch vehicle. The launch should take place from Vostochny, as we have already agreed, in 2028,” Putin said.
It should be noted that despite the logical criticism of Roscosmos’ work, the state corporation’s head Evgeny Rogozin explained the multiple delays in the Vostochny Cosmodrome construction with bad weather (!). According to Rogozin, meteorologists promised the workers 310 sunny days a year. But in fact, in the middle of summer, it rained incessantly.
“I don’t understand how these statistics were made,” he claimed. “It’s been pouring for a month, it’s filling in the foundation pits. Maybe the climate has changed?”
On September 2, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that the pace of construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome does not satisfy anyone.
“The situation does not suit everyone: neither with the construction of the first stage, nor with the construction of the second one. The work on the first was actually disrupted, only the most necessary facilities were built, which allowed several launches of Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b rockets from the Vostochny [Cosmodrone],” Borisov said in an interview with Vedomosti newspaper.
He recalled that currently the first stage facilities are being completed and on the second stage the PSO Kazan company is working on the launch site for Angara rockets.
According to available information, the FSO Kazan is one of the assets of the oligarchic group representing the interests of national clans originating from Tatarstan and some regions of the North Caucasus. This group created an integrated structure linking financial capital, criminal groups, and some representatives of the law enforcement system, the judicial system and top bureaucrats. The goal of the effort is to get as much budget funds as possible by various means and redistribute them using gray schemes.
It should be noted that the PSO Kazan had no real experience in the space industry’s construction works before it was chosen as the general contractor for the Angara launch site.
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