19 March 2014
Now that the Sochi Olympics are over, Russia’s top priority is the Vostochny space complex that is under way in Siberia, according to Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister.
The launch site for Russian rockets is to be combined with a futuristic science city that is being built from scratch in the Amur region of Russia’s Far East.Â
Manned space missions are due to begin in 2018, but work on the launch pad for the Soyuz-2 carrier rocketÂ is to be completed in July next year. Rogozin said there could be "no excuses" for failure to meet the deadline.
The deputy premier, who is in charge of Russia’s space programme, was speaking during a visit to the site on Monday. He commented: "The Amur region is being transformed thanks to the spacedrome. The Olympic Games are over, now Vostochny spaceport becomes a priority."
Work on the project, which is seen as vital to Russia’s space technology industry, has been hit by construction problems.
A TMA-5 Soyuz spacecraft is mated to its booster rocket in a hangar in Kazakhstan. This work will be transferred to Vostochny in Siberia next year (NASA)
According to the Interfax news agency, Rogozin said: "Builders told the deputy prime minister that a deficit of skilled personnel was the main problem of the Vostochny project: the inferior quality of works slowed down the entire process."
The client for the scheme is Spetsstroy, the state run special projects agency.Â
He added: "This means Spetsstroy must assign its own personnel for special-purpose sites and the civilian sites must employ those who built the Sochi facilities. They will have to be transferred. Only 5,000 people are building the spaceport.Â Independent experts say that the number of workers employed in Vostochny should grow to at least to 15,000."
The spaceport is to be joined by a new town, named after the Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.
"You should think about the construction of not only the launch sites but also of the new town, Tsiolkovsky, Rogozin told contractors at a conference in February dedicated to the project.Â "Vostochny is a point of growth for the entire Russian Far East, a breath of fresh air for the Far Eastern region. ItÂ will not just provide for the space independence of Russia; the new town will accommodate space industry intellectuals."