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Cosmodrome project injects new life into Russian Far East
by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Apr 28, 2021

Vostochny Cosmodrome, a launch site in Amur Oblast is located 5,500 kilometers east of Moscow.

Sixty years after Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, most Russians believe their country remains the leader in the field of aerospace.

It was no surprise when Moscow last year named its first approved coronavirus vaccine Sputnik, after the satellite whose launch in 1957 stunned the West.

A Bloomberg report said that while Russian President Vladimir Putin is not an interplanetary travel enthusiast, he is keenly aware of the military and geopolitical implications of a space program.

Soviet rockets and satellites journeyed into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan, the world's first and largest operational space launch facility.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian government is paying $115 million annually to lease the site until 2050.

However, in recent years, environmental activists have protested against the use of Baikonur.

Vostochny Cosmodrome, a launch site in Amur Oblast some 5,500 kilometers east of Moscow, may offer a solution.

Completion of the project, which has brought new life to the area, has given Russians pride and hope for exciting economic opportunities as Moscow works to transform the region into the country's space science and industrial hub.

A plaque just outside the entrance to the cosmodrome, perched below a monument to Russia's new Angara rocket, bears the words, "The path to the stars begins here".

A statue of Gagarin stands at the spaceport, and the country is hoping the facility will rebuild its role in space exploration.

In 2016, China Daily was the first Chinese media organization to visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome, where a guide at a small museum explained why the site is shrouded in mystery.

She said that in the 1960s, the area was called Uglegorsk, which means coal hill.

"But there is no coal here. The name was just a cover, as the site was established to serve the nearby intercontinental ballistic missile base of the Soviet Armed Forces," the guide added.

Reaching the rocket and spacecraft assembly area involves a journey through forests, grassland and construction sites.

Alexander Molchanov, deputy general of the spaceport, said, "In order to stay safe and avoid getting lost, you can visit any corner but don't open closed doors or press any buttons on the machines."

He added that no staff member at the facility is in the military, and that Russia wants the spaceport to be known to the world.

Four kilometers away, the rocket launch tower, which is 53 meters high and weighs 1,600 metric tons, stands in a vast field, with no heavy security in sight.

The spaceport may not yet have played a full role in developing Russia's aerospace industry, but it has significantly helped the region advance.

Thanks to the new facility, the Russian government has poured resources into Amur State University to create a space faculty, which is starting to put students through training programs and apprenticeships.

Ilya Oleinik, a student at the university from the eastern city of Blagoveshchensk, said the cosmodrome and education programs at the university have given him a chance to be part of the future.

"Before the cosmodrome was built, nothing really happened here. Now, more attention is being paid to the region. It is being more actively developed," he said.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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