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Russia to Start Building New Manned Rocket Launch Pad in 2015

RIA Novosti

03:31 25/02/2014

MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is planning to start construction of a launch pad for a new heavy-class carrier rocket at a future space center in the Far East next year to set the stage for its maiden manned launch in 2018.

Russia is building a launch complex for the Angara rocket family at the country's new Vostochny space center to reduce dependence on Kazakhstan for space launches. Moscow leases the Baikonur space center for $115 million per year.

Federal space agency Roscosmos said Monday that Angara launch facilities at Vostochny will be built in two stages: the first launch pad will ensure the launch of a light-class Angara rocket in 2015, while the second will host heavy-class Angara rockets, which would carry out unmanned resupply as well as piloted missions.

Officials had earlier said that last summer's excessive rainfall and the frosty conditions this winter had added to delays in the facility's completion.

The Angara family of rockets, designed to provide lifting capabilities of between 2,000 and 40,500 kilograms into low earth orbit, has been in development since 1995. The rocket has a liquid-oxygen and kerosene powered first stage and hydrogen-oxygen fueled second stage.

According to Roscosmos, the light-class Angara rocket is on track for a test mission in the second quarter of this year. A full-scale mockup of the rocket was rolled out to a launch pad at the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia last week to check ground support systems.

The Angara will complement the country's venerable Soyuz rocket, currently the only vehicle in the world capable of launching astronauts to the International Space Station.

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