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Russia to launch manned spacecraft from new site in 2018

RIA Novosti

21/11/2007 15:12 SAMARA, November 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will start launches of manned spacecraft from a future space center in Russia's Far East in 2018, a first deputy prime minster said on Wednesday.

"On November 6, the Russian president signed a decree on the construction of a new space center, to be named Vostochny, in the Amur Region," Sergei Ivanov said at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission in Samara, in the Volga region.

"We are planning to launch the first spacecraft from Vostochny in 2015, and by 2018 to start launching manned spacecraft from the new space center," Ivanov said, adding that the construction could take about 10 years.

Ivanov, who oversees Russia's military-industrial complex, provided no details on the cost of the construction, but said its scale would be comparable to the construction of a new town.

Russia currently uses two sites for launches of carrier rockets to orbit spacecraft, and for ballistic missiles tests: the Baikonur space center in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia.

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

Ivanov confirmed that Russia would continue to use the Baikonur launch site until at least 2020, and would also build new facilities at the Kazakh center under the joint Baiterek project to support launches of the future Angara family of launch vehicles.

At the same time, the first deputy premier called for urgent measures to develop the country as a leading space power rather than to turn it into a provider of launch services for other countries.

"I would like to stress that Russia should not turn into a country providing only launching services - a kind of space hauler, although this alarming trend has been taking shape lately," Ivanov said.

"This trend may become a reality, unless proper measures are taken urgently to develop all aspects of space activities," he said.

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