Putin Signs Off on New Cosmodrome

MOSCOW ?Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree authorizing constructionof a new launch facility on Russian? territory to reduce the nation?sdependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, First Deputy PremierSergei Ivanov told reporters Nov. 21.

Thecosmodrome will be built in the Amur region in Russia?s Far East and will servethe nation?s human and robotic space exploration programs, according to Ivanov.

Ivanov saidthe cosmodrome will be named Vostochny, or Eastern, and that a feasibilitystudy will be completed by 2010 to pinpoint the exact location. The cosmodromewill be built from 2010 to 2018 with the first launch scheduled to take placein 2018.

At the sametime, Ivanov said Russia has no plans to immediately abandon the BaikonurCosmodrome, which Russia leases from Kazakhstan. Baikonur is used for allRussian launches of crews and cargo to the international space station and mostof its launches of geostationary-orbiting satellites.?

AnatolyPerminov, director of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos), has saidRussia has no plans to abandon Baikonur.

?We willbuild the new cosmodrome, but initially it will be used along with Baikonur,?Perminov said in remarks posted Nov. 9 on the Roskosmos Web site.

Russia?sother primary launch site is the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the northern part ofthe country.

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