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W.Bruce Lincoln

Hundreds of students get a unique stake in Russia's space dream

By The Siberian Times reporter
24 June 2014

20 student construction teams to take part in building the new Vostochny spaceport on eastern edge of Siberia.

Vostochny will be Russia's new space hub. Picture: drawing of Soviet artist Andrey Sokolov on his vision of space exploration

Some 500 students from 14 regions will travel to Amur region for a summer's work helping to construct the world's most modern space centre. Starting on 1 July, they will work for a minimum of two months. 

The scheme is a revival of the Soviet system of 'student building brigades'.

'The space centre is the driving engine of development in the Amur region,' said Konstatin Chmarov, director of the coordination centre in charge of construction of the space complex. 'We have got over to a quality new level of works here this year as we're reviving the Soviet-era tradition of Komsomol construction sites akin to the Baikal-Amur Mainline (railway) or the Zeya River hydropower plant'.

He said: 'Real young tough guys are getting here.'

They will work alongside specialist builders, whose numbers were doubled in a major effort to complete the ambitious project - the largest in Russia - on time.

Student team from Tomsk to go to Vostochny

Student team is ready to go

Student team is working on Vostochny

The student building brigades were abolished with the fall of the Soviet Union, but the immense space complex project is seen as ideal for a comback. Pictures: Roskosmos

Vostochny will be Russia's new space hub. It will act as a launch pad, hosting the country's new Angara rocket, to reduce its reliance on its main Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan. There will also be a new space city where the scientists and technicians will live. 

The student scheme is seen as an unexpected revival of the Soviet-era building brigades - called 'stroy otryady' - which were created exactly 90 years ago in 1924 and saw generations of young people involved on some of the most epic projects accomplished by the USSR, for example the Baikal Amur Mainline rail link in Siberia.

The student building brigades were abolished with the fall of the Soviet Union, but the immense space complex project is seen as ideal for a comback. The plan is the brainchild of deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin.

His hope is that by working here, young people will be inspired to live and plan their later careers at Vostochny, and its satellite city Tsiolkovsky, becoming Russia's future space specialists.

He wanted to 'attract future specialists that will be working and living here to the building process'. 

Rogozin has also rekindled the dream of ambitious space exploration that was the hallmark of an earlier period in the Soviet Union.

'We are coming to the moon forever,' he wrote in an article in Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper in April.

'Flights to Mars and asteroids in our view do not contradict exploration of the moon, but in many senses imply it'.

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