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Russia To Get New Spaceport
by Mikhail Aristov
for Voice of Russia
Vostochny, Russia (VOR) Apr 04, 2011

Putin visiting the Vostochny cosmodrome.

The Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur Region is slated to become Russia's major spaceport, with nearly half of the space launches planned to be carried out from it after 2020, the Russian Space Agency reports.

The Vostochny space launch facility will be built in addition to the currently operational Plesetsk and Baikonur space launch facilities which are insufficient to satisfy Russia's growing needs in space exploration. Construction will begin in summer 2011. Vostochny will embrace about 1,500 facilities, including 2 space launch pads, a training and a medical center and an hydrogen and oxygen plant. The first launches are planned for 2015.

The new spaceport will be built on the basis of the experience accumulated during the construction of the Kourou space launch facility in French Guiana and the launch pad in South Korea. Anatoly Perminov, the President of Russia's Roskosmos Corporation, comments.

It's important for Russia to use its previous experience in building space facilities and to apply whatever new methods it has acquired for the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Moscow architect Dmitry Pshenichnikov believes that the look of the city adjacent to the cosmodrome should reflect a harmonious combination of architecture and nature.

Russia has a chance of creating something entirely new, something which no other countries have ever had. This is not just an innovation hub or a number of launch pads with engineering facilities - it's a brand new living environment.

The city will be home to 35,000 people. Besides, there will be tourists, coming from Russia and all over the world. The two space launch pads will house the launches of different-type spacecraft but their impact zones will not stretch to trespass on areas that belong to other countries or that are reserved for fishing, navigation or the mining of natural resources. And since the project stipulates a runway for shuttles, Vostochny is bound to become a haven for reusable manned space vehicles.

As he addressed an innovation congress in the Amur Region on the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko said that his colleagues are getting ready for Vostochny flights and that he personally was hoping to fly from the new cosmodrome in the future. Romanenko, who was awarded the title of Hero of Russia, is getting ready for his second flight to the ISS scheduled for 2012.

Starting from 2020, the Vostochny Cosmodrome is expected to account for 45% of the space launches, the Plesetsk space launch facility will accommodate 44% of flights and Baikonur in Kazakhstan will host only 11% of takeoffs.

earlier related report
The Russian American Space Partnership
A Voice of Russia radio report
Anastasia: Well, the future of Russian-American space cooperation can be viewed with, so to say, optimism.

Andrei: Yes. NASA has signed a $753 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation, rescue and related services from 2014 through June 2016. The firm-fixed price modification covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue of long-duration missions for 12 individual space station crew members.

With this contract modification, American station crew members may launch on Soyuz vehicles during a 24-month period. The contract will provide for the launch of six people in calendar year 2014 and six more in 2015, as well as their return to Earth in the spring of 2016 after a six-month stay aboard the station. The extended contract ends June 30, 2016.

Under the contract modification, the Soyuz flights will carry limited cargo associated with crew transportation to and from the station, and assist with the disposal of trash. The cargo provided per Soyuz seat is approximately 110 pounds launched to the station, approximately 37 pounds returned to Earth and trash disposal of approximately 66 pounds.

By the way the whole story of our bilateral space cooperation is not so bright.

It's true. U.S. President George Bush has signed a bill passed by the U.S. Congress ending restrictions on NASA's use of Russian Soyuz spacecraft for flights to the International Space Station.

The document allows the United States to pay Russian organizations for work conducted on or services provided for the ISS. The bill, which amends the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, allows NASA to cooperate with Russia on the ISS, including the possibility of using Soyuz craft to ferry American astronauts to the station.

Act of 2000 that bar U.S. purchases of Russian human spaceflight hardware as long as Russia continues to help Iran in its pursuit of nuclear know-how and advanced weapons technology.

Without relief from the Iran act, NASA could have found itself unable to send its astronauts to the space station for extended stays. After the Columbia disaster in 2003 Russian Soyuz spaceships were the only transportation means left at the US disposal. But by the end of 2005 a Soyuz capsule set to carry a new two-person crew - and one space tourist - to the station was the last one Russia had been obligated to provide at no charge to the United States under a bilateral agreement.

All is well that ends well. Today The U.S. House of Representatives also is considering amending the Iran Nonproliferation Act to permit NASA to buy Soyuz vehicles, but it has yet to take any legislative action.

But it doesn't mean the US gave up the idea of its own space fleet. NASA has efforts underway to develop an American-made commercial capability for crew transportation and rescue services to the station following this year's retirement of the space shuttle fleet.

Agency Administrator Charles Bolden cited Soyuz contract extension as a reminder of how critically important those efforts are. "The president's 2012 budget request boosts funding for our partnership with the commercial space industry and prioritizes our efforts to ensure that American astronauts and the cargo they need are transported by American companies rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign governments," Bolden said.

He continues: "This new approach in getting our crews and cargo into orbit will create good jobs and expand opportunities for our American economy. If we are to win the future and out build our competitors, it's essential that we make this program a success."

NASA made Commercial Crew Development awards in 2010 to stimulate efforts within the private sector, encouraging them to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities. The agency anticipates these systems will be available by the middle of the decade.

These services will provide American primary transportation to and from the International Space Station for U.S., Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts. To ensure a smooth transition as this new capability is developed, Soyuz support will continue as a backup capability for about a year after commercial services begin.

In the early 1970s, the Nixon administration had come to a conclusion it would be better to reduce U.S.-Soviet tensions, and launched a major effort to reach a strategic arms limitation breakthrough, as well as new cooperation in space.

In 1970, visiting the USSR the U.S. Academy of Sciences President Philip Handler mentioned an American movie starring Gregory Peck and Gene Hackman called Marooned, in which Soviet cosmonauts helped rescue three U.S. astronauts stranded in Earth orbit. Handler suggested the United States and U.S.S.R. develop a mutually compatible docking system that would make possible such rescues, as well as non-emergency space dockings.

This imaginary movie scenario touched a chord within space communities on both sides, which already had experienced emergency situations in real life. Talks led to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project docking mission of 1975, which developed compatible rendezvous and docking systems still in use today, and the establishment of a few topical working groups in different space science and applications disciplines.

Implementation of Apollo-Soyuz cooperation was dictated by the political will of the two countries' political leadership. The cooperation presented a serious management challenge for both sides, given the overall lack of compatibility between the two space programs. NASA had to work with a counterpart that could not even be clearly identified.

The Soviet Ministry of General Machine Building was still covered with secrecy and Soviet authorities instructed the Academy of Sciences to act as a cover for all activities during Apollo-Soyuz. Soviet industry experts had to introduce themselves as employees of the Institute of Space Research and military officers from Soviet Space Command changed into civilian clothes.

Later, in 1984 while the Soviets were not invited to join the American space station "Freedom" project, the Reagan administration indicated its willingness to resume space cooperation with the U.S.S.R.

So, the administration privately suggested to Moscow a simulated space rescue demonstration mission in which U.S. astronauts from the space shuttle would assist Soviet cosmonauts aboard a Salyut station. Both privately and publicly, the Soviet response was cool, because of the perceived asymmetry of a mission in which the Soviet crew was in trouble and the U.S. crew would act as rescuers.

When Mikhail Gorbachev emerged as the Soviet leader in 1985, Reagan thought he had found a willing partner. Gorbachev was interested in reducing the Soviet defense budget, and with the so-called Euromissile issue still unresolved, his government quickly signaled its readiness for a new round of arms control negotiations with the United States.

When Reagan and Gorbachev met in Geneva in November, 1985 to discuss arms control, they also signed an agreement on scientific cooperation. Once again, cooperation was symbolic of a thaw in the Cold War. However, Gorbachev still expressed strong Soviet opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative and space was not included in the agreement. The Soviets had linked space cooperation to a demand that the United States abandon its plans for the initiative altogether.

Only three months after the Geneva summit, a tragedy occurred that would set the U.S. space program back several years - the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Little noticed at the time was a diplomatic breakthrough that occurred only a few weeks after the Challenger accident. On Feb. 20, 1986, the Soviet Union launched the first of six modules that eventually would comprise the Mir space station.

In the wake of the Challenger accident and the launch of Mir, the USSR leaders finally agreed to decouple non-military space issues from the Strategic Defense Initiative. The United States and the Soviet Union subsequently signed a five-year agreement on space cooperation in April 1987. A number of joint scientific projects were agreed to, although there was no mention of cooperation in human spaceflight.

More importantly, in an exchange of letters between Gorbachev and Reagan the previous summer, the link between arms control progress and renewed space cooperation was dropped. This paved the way for both sides to take meaningful steps toward actual cooperation.

During their last Moscow summit in May 1988, Gorbachev invited Reagan to walk inside the Kremlin yard. Passing by impressive historic artifacts like the "Czar Cannon" that never fired, and the "Czar Bell," that never tolled, the first and last Soviet president tried to lure his guest into agreeing to support a joint manned mission to Mars. Only time will tell if this project will come to pass or serve as another dead artifact of history.

Source: Voice of Russia


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