Putin’s $3.8 Billion Space Investment Lightens Baikonur’s Satellite Launch Load

[Satellite TODAY Insider 01-13-11] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will spend $3.8 billion on his country’s national space program in 2011, with plans to launch about 50 spacecraft and adopt a federal program to develop the Glonass satellite navigation system until 2020.
    In a statement to press officials, Putin called space exploration “Russia’s national brand” and stressed the importance of getting back on track after the country’s Glonass launch failure on a Proton-M rocket in December. “We must remember that space exploration is not only a traditional priority of Russia but also a source of national pride. Russia will work to increase its share in the global space market by designing new models of unmanned and manned spacecraft, participating in more international space projects and building a new space center,” he said.
    The planned spaceport will be located at Vostochny, in Russia’s Amur region. Putin said that $786 million would be invested in the three-year construction project. The spaceport aims to allow Russia to launch various types of spacecraft, including manned spaceship, that currently can be launched only from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.
    Russia remained the global leader in space launches in 2010, launching 31 out of 74 the world’s missions from within its borders. Out of those 31 launches, 24 took place at the Baikonur spaceport, with six from the Plesetsk spaceport and one from the launch site of the Dombarovskaya missile division.
    According to Putin, Russia, with 110 satellites in orbit, will begin launching satellites from the Vostochny spaceport in 2015. By 2010, Putin plans to launch 45 percent of the country’s total satellites from the new facility. “The spaceport infrastructure will be fully developed between 2018 and 2020, and the facility will switch to manned launches. In the future the spaceport may launch heavy interplanetary spaceships,” Putin said.
    The Prime Minister also vowed that the Russian Federal Space Agency would fully restore the Glonass cluster by the end of the year, starting with the launch of the Glonass-K satellite in January.

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