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Russia to build new space center in Far East - Roskosmos

RIA Novosti

09/11/2007 13:48 MOSCOW, November 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is to build a new space center in the Far East, but will continue to use Kazakhstan's Baikonur launch site until at least 2020, Roskosmos, Russia's space agency, said on Friday.

"We are currently considering the Amur Region in the Far East as the main location for a new launch site," Anatoly Perminov, the space agency chief, said.

Perminov had previously said that construction of a new launch facility would only begin after a new type of spacecraft had been built.

Russia currently launches its Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur space center, which it has leased from Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"We will not and cannot leave Baikonur before 2020 as long as Soyuz [spacecraft] are being launched," Perminov said.

The Federal Space Program for 2006-2015 stipulates the joint construction with European partners of a reusable "Clipper" spacecraft, as well as two carrier rockets, the Angara and the Soyuz-2.

While the family of Soyuz-2 launch vehicles is already operational, Russia is still developing its entire range of Angara boosters.

Perminov said Russia was still in the process of holding a tender for the development of the Clipper reusable spacecraft. Russia's two leading space companies, the Energia Corporation and the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center, are participating in the tender.

The Clipper, a six-person spacecraft similar to the U.S. Space Shuttle, is designed to replace the Soyuz and Progress carrier rockets in making regular flights to the ISS, and, eventually, the Moon and Mars. It will carry two professional astronauts and up to four passengers.

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