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11 Apr, 2008 10:17

Putin backs new space launch site

A new space launch pad is being planned for Russia's Far East. At a meeting of the country’s Security Council, attended by the outgoing and incoming presidents, Vladimir Putin highlighted the importance of developing the space programme. He pointed partic

The Council outlined the main goals for the industry up to 2020.

“We must not only be carriers offering our launch vehicles to put foreign spacecraft and cargoes into orbit, but also, increasingly, promote high-technology patterns and services linked to space exploration,” President Putin noted.

Innovative technologies and private investment are named among the keys to the stars. But first Russia needs guaranteed access to space – an issue raised by Putin.

“We need more opportunities to carry out all types of launches, from unmanned satellites to manned spacecraft and interplanetary space stations,” Russia’s leader said.

Putin wants work intensified to creat a new launch-site, Vostochnyy. It is to be located in the Amur Region, in Russia's Far East. Eventually it could be a substitute for Baikonur.

The world’s oldest and largest space launch facility, Baikonur, was built by the Soviet Union in the late fifties. Today it is leased to Russia by Kazakhstan until 2050, at an annual rent price of $US 115 million.