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New space era begins Wednesday with Russia's first launch from new cosmodrome

By The Siberian Times reporter
26 April 2016

Orthodox blessing for Soyuz-2 rocket ahead of historic unmanned mission.

The space port, including several launch pad and a new scientific town for workers in the industry, will pass a significant milestone with Wednesday's launch.  Picture: Vostochny Cosmodrome

The first launch from Vostochny spaceport - on the eastern edge of Siberia in Amur region -  is to take place at 05:01 Moscow Standard Time (11:01 local time) on 27 April. It is due to lift three satellites into orbit - Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218.

The blessing is in keeping with a tradition established at Baikonur, in Kazakhstan, which the new Vostochny cosmodrome will gradually replace for Russian launches. The ceremony was conducted by Lucien, Bishop of Blagoveshchensk and Tynda, said a Russian state space corporation Roscosmos. 

Blessing the rocket


Blessing the rocket

The blessing ceremony was conducted by Lucien, Bishop of Blagoveshchensk and Tynda. Pictures: Blagoveshchenskaya diocese

Vostochny has been hit by a series of delays and allegations of corruption in the construction process, yet the space port, including several launch pad and a new scientific town for workers in the industry, will pass a significant milestone with Wednesday's launch. 

Tens of thousands of workers are constructing the complex which includes 115 kilometres (71 miles) of roads, and 125 kilometres (76 miles) of railways. The space town called Tsiolkovsky will have 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 Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle was moved into position several days before launch. 'The rocket has been installed on the launch pad,' a Roscosmos spokesperson said on Saturday.

Ready to launch


Ready to launch


Ready to launch

'The rocket has been installed on the launch pad,' a Roscosmos spokesperson said on Saturday. Pictures: Vostochny Cosmodrome

The Lomonosov research satellite was manufactured under a contract with Moscow Lomonosov State University by the VNIIEM corporation and is designed for conducting scientific experiments to study transient light phenomena, radiation characteristics of the earth magnetosphere, and fundamental cosmological studies, reported Interfax. 

The satellite is equipped with a space telescope to measure the energy spectrum and chemical composition of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays from the near-earth orbit. In addition, the satellite is equipped with sets of instruments to study gamma-ray bursts and the Earth's adjacent magnetosphere.

Baikonur remains on lease to Russia until 2050.

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