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Shaping up for space

By Anna Liesowska
06 July 2015

Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures.

'The biggest and the most important site in Russia'. Picture here and below: Igor Ageenko

The new spaceport has had mixed headlines with labour problems and allegations of corruption, but huge progress has been made at the country's largest construction project, as these images show. Since we last checked out the site - on the extreme east of Siberia - the change has been dramatic. 

Pictured here are some of the 1,000 Russian students spending their summer vacation working at the new spaceport which is due to see its first launch as soon as December. They are being paid for their labour, but the scheme is a throwback to the Soviet era when young people were drafted in to build some of the USSR's greatest engineering achievements, such as the Baikal Amur Mainline rail link, which runs to the north of the world famous Trans-Siberian route. 

Whatever the problems in recent months, which included labourers complaining they had not been paid for up to four months, there is a feeling the project is now on track again after fears it would not meet its ambitious launch targets. 

Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures
'All the initial construction works and the transfer of premises for assembly should be completed by the end of summer'. 


The politician in charge Dmitry Rogozin, Russian deputy prime minister, said last week that he expected President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to visit Vostochny  construction site in the Far East by the end of the year.

'Before the December launch [from the cosmodrome], we expect to show the stages of work to the country's leadership,' he said. 'I hope both the president of Russia and the head of the government will necessarily visit this construction site during this year.'

The pace of building the Vostochny spaceport in compliance with the schedule is regularly discussed, he said.

'We have installed webcams at all major facilities of the Vostochny construction site and I get a real-time picture at my workplace in the government. We hold call conferences every week, including reports from specialists and supervisors of the Vostochny cosmodrome. 

'The state commission for the cosmodrome construction convenes once a month.'

Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures
Shaping up for space, Vostochny - Eastern - spacedrome. 


The Vostochny - meaning Eastern - cosmodrome has started testing the first set of equipment at its control centre.

This equipment comprises the system of guaranteed electricity supply for the launch site, reported TASS. 

All the initial construction works and the transfer of premises for assembly should be completed by the end of summer so that the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) can start installing hi-tech equipment, said Rogozin.

The target is to launch an unmanned Soyuz rocket from Vostochny in December this year with the first manned spacecraft due to blast off in 2018. The aim of the cosmodrome is to replace the traditional launch site of Baikonur, in Kazakhstan, giving Russia a spaceport on its own territory for the coming period when more adventurous exploration is planned by all nations with a space capability. 

The cost of Vostochny, in Amur region and close to the Chinese border, is put at $5.8 billion.

Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures
Inside the new Vostochny spaceport in the Far East of Russia. 


Some 10,000 workers are constructing the complex which includes 115 kilometres (71 miles) of roads and 125 kilometres (76 miles) of railways. The plans include a town with housing for 25,000 people.

The new cosmodrome is 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) in area, just a tenth of the size of Baikonur.

The site is designed for the new Angara rocket, which is due to replace the ageing Proton workhorse in the coming years. 

Problems at Vostochny were given massive exposure on April 16 during President Putin's televised phone-in with members of the public. Some workers at the site spoke to the president, complaining that they had been abandoned after their contractor went bust, and had not been paid for four months.

'Just in this year, we have provided 40 billion (roubles)... And most importantly, the principal contractor has been paid in full. Why isn't the money getting through to the subcontractors, why aren't wages being paid? That's a big question that calls for a scrupulous investigation', replied Putin.

'Have no doubt, we will definitely achieve what you're talking about - wages paid in full and you continuing your work at what really is the biggest and most important site in Russia'.

Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures
'The complex includes 115 kilometres (71 miles) of roads and 125 kilometres (76 miles) of railways. 


Emergency funding was released to cover the wage arrears. In May, a former contractor in charge of the site was detained under house arrest on suspicion of embezzling 288 million roubles.

'We have done everything we can to be proud of this cosmodrome,' said Olga Zaichenko, head of a new  workers' union at the site. 'We are working 24/7.'

Igor Marinin, editor of Space News magazine, said: 'When there's a construction project and a lot of money is allocated, then there are major violations in how this money is used. The same goes for any construction project. The launch is set for December. 

'I think that's realistic. Naturally, they'll be doing a lot of work to finish off what didn't get done on time'.

A number of embezzlement cases have been launched by state prosecutors. A key plan at Vostochny is to earn money from international clients, and Vostochny has already won such contracts from French and British companies. 

French space launch provider Arianespace announced the purchase of 21 Russian-built Soyuz rockets to launch between 650 and 720 microsatellites built by British firm OneWeb, a deal worth between $1-2 billion that is a major boost to the Russian space industry.

The satellites will provide Internet services to all corners of the globe. This news is a major boost to Russia's space industry, which has suffered a series of embarrassing launch failures in recent years. The first batch of 10 pilot satellites will be launched on a Soyuz rocket in late 2017.   The remaining 20 launches will occur from 2017 to 2019.


The satellites will provide Internet services to all corners of the globe. This news is a major boost to Russia's space industry, which has suffered a series of embarrassing launch failures in recent years. The first batch of 10 pilot satellites will be launched on a Soyuz rocket in late 2017.   The remaining 20 launches will occur from 2017 to 2019.


The satellites will provide Internet services to all corners of the globe. This news is a major boost to Russia's space industry, which has suffered a series of embarrassing launch failures in recent years. The first batch of 10 pilot satellites will be launched on a Soyuz rocket in late 2017.   The remaining 20 launches will occur from 2017 to 2019.


Inside the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East of Russia - exclusive pictures
The site is designed for the new Angara rocket, which is due to replace the ageing Proton workhorse. 


The satellites will provide Internet services to all corners of the globe. This news is a major boost to Russia's space industry, which has suffered a series of embarrassing launch failures in recent years. The first batch of 10 pilot satellites will be launched on a Soyuz rocket in late 2017. 

The remaining 20 launches will occur from 2017 to 2019. Some of the rockets will take off from Russia's $3 billion Vostochny Cosmodrome, though the exact number is not yet specified. 

As the spaceport prepares to take on its new role, Russia announced that it is already receiving telemetry data from the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). 'A mobile tracking station deployed in Vostochny by JSC Russian Space Systems has started to receive telemetry,' said a statement from Roscosmos.

Comments (1)

It would be just and logical if the second Buran spacecraft which is suffering from neglect in Kazakhstan is restored by Vostochny for exhibition. Neglect means the contract was not fulfilled by Astana so the Buran should return to Russia.
Enrique, Spain
07/07/2015 09:49
7
2
1

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