Russian space officials have outlined an ambitious plan to increase its space autonomy by building a new spaceport in the Far East and accelerating development of a new family of rockets.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for speeding up the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Amur region near China, the Associated Press reports. The new facility would be ready for rocket launches by 2015; it would handle all human spaceflights by 2020.
“We must ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to space, that is a capability to make all kind of space launches â€” satellites, manned spacecraft and interplanetary probes â€” from our own territory,” Putin said.
Russia currently launches Soyuz crew vehicles and other rockets from the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome, which it leases from Kazakhstan. Russia is still planning to use Baikonur until at least 2050, the Russian news agency Novosti reported.
Putin called for the accelerated development of the new Angara launcher, a family of modular rockets capable of launching medium to heavy payloads. Angara will fly out of Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome. A heavy lift version will be launched at Baikonur from a new launch pad being jointly developed by Russia and Kazakhstan, Novosti reported.
The first Angara launch is scheduled to occur in 2010 or 2011. Wikipedia has more about the rocket.