Russia to build new cosmodrome
Russia has decided to build a new base to launch manned and unmanned space probes, the state news agency ITAR-TASS reported Wednesday.
The new Vostochny cosmodrome in the country's far east won't be ready for manned launches until 2018, but unmanned vehicles could lift off as soon as 2015, said first deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov.
The new station, in the Amur region bordering China, will be located close to the Svobodny site, which is used for unmanned launches and slated for closure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the new station on Nov. 6, Ivanov said.
Russia currently launches its manned space flights from the 6,000-square-kilometre Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic along Russia's southern border.
The Kazakh government is concerned about the environmental impact of the station, but renewed the Russian lease to 2050 in 2004.
The most recent Russian expedition from the Baikonur cosmodromelefton Oct. 10, carryingMalaysia's first space voyageur, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, among others.
The spacecraft, which went to theInternational Space Station,returned to earth safely but landed far off course on Oct. 21.
The Baikonur station will continue to be used for the International Space Station program, Russian officials said.
With files from the Associated Press