The Vostochny Cosmodrome (Russian: Космодром Восточный Kosmodrom Vostochny "Eastern Spaceport") is a planned Russian spaceport, to be located at 51 degrees north in the Amur Oblast, in the Russian Far East and Outer Manchuria. It is intended to reduce Russia's dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan. Construction began in January 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2018.
The cosmodrome will be located in the Svobodny and Shimanovsk districts of Amur Oblast in the Russian Far East, on the watershed of the Zeya and Bolshaya Pyora rivers. The planned total area is 551.5 km2, being a region approximately 30 km in diameter.
The nearest city is Uglegorsk. The name Vostochny means "eastern" in Russian. Vostochny's geographic location at 51 degrees north means that, to a given orbit, rockets will be able to carry almost the same amount of payload as they can when launched from Baikonur. Other arguments for choosing this location include the ability to use sparsely populated areas and bodies of water for the rocket launch routes; proximity to major transportation networks such as the Baikal-Amur Mainline, the Chita-Khabarovsk highway; abundance of electricity production resources in the area; and the presence of the infrastructure of the former Svobodny Cosmodrome, on which the new spaceport will be based. The site's location close to the Pacific Ocean will allow for easier transport of materials to the site, and will allow rockets to jettison their lower stages over the ocean. The nearby train station is Ledyanaya. It was expanded as part of the plan of modernization of the supporting infrastructure.
The new cosmodrome will enable Russia to launch most missions from its own soil, and to reduce Russia's dependency on the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazahkstan. Currently, Baikonur is the only launch site operated by Russia with capability to launch manned flights and satellites to geostationary orbit. The Russian government pays a yearly rent of $115 million to Kazakhstan for its usage. Unmanned payloads to low-earth orbit can also be currently launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwestern Russia. The new site is intended mostly for civilian launches. Roscosmos plans to move 45% of Russia's space launches to Vostochny by 2020, while Baikonur's share will drop from 65% to 11%, and Plesetsk will account for 44 percent. In a draft strategy, which was presented at a meeting of the club of friends of the cluster space technology and telecommunications fund "Skolkovo" and published in the official fund microblog on Twitter said that in 2011 the share of space launches from Russia's territory stands on 25% only and by 2030 this figure will stand on 90%.
It is planned to build seven launch pads at the site, including two for manned flights and two for space freighters. On September 1, 2009 Medvedev signed Presidential decree №562 declaring Spetstroy is the sole contractor of the construction of the cosmodrome. Construction began in January 2011 and is expected to be completed by 2018. The first unmanned launch will take place in 2015. Russian engineers are looking to apply the knowledge gained from building the Soyuz launch facilities in Kourou spaceport and the Angara pad at Naro Space Center in South Korea. As a cost-saving measure, no defensive military structures like those at Baikonur cosmodrome will be built at Vostochny.
Ex-prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made several statements emphasizing the importance of the new cosmodrome. "The creation of a new space center ... is one of modern Russia's biggest and most ambitious projects", he said in August 2010. In January 2011, he ordered the government to complete the paperwork as soon as possible so that construction can start on schedule.
During a visit to the site in July 2011, a newly appointed chief of Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, promised 20 billion rubles for Vostochny during 2012.
A month later, the head of Spetstroi, Grigory Naginsky told the press that first blueprints for the center went through the project expertise and the first contract worth 1.6 billion rubles was signed with Roskosmos, covering the construction of the railway line and the road. Naginsky also promised the completion of the initial makeshift housing for construction workers at the site by October 1, 2011.
The general designer of the cosmodrome is Ipromashprom (Mechanical Engineering Project Institute). The main contractor is the Federal Agency for Special Construction.
On December 2011 ARMS-TASS reported with reference to the director of Federal Special Construction Agency, Grigory Naginsky that the hotels and barracks are being constructed within the infrastructure of Vostochny Cosmodrome. Speaking of housing development plans, he noted that a town for 40 thousand people will be constructed in the network of Cosmodrome.
On January 2012 a Russian Government Decree transferred 9,663 hectares of forest lands in the Amur Oblast for the construction of the spaceport from Shimanovsky and Svobodensky districts.
On March 2, Deputy Prosecutor General Yuri Gulyagin said at a meeting with the Presidential representative in the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev that timely payment of wages, as well as registration of vehicles and people involved in the construction of the cosmodrome, will soon be the focus of regulatory authorities. According to him, the construction of launch site should not be admitted to the violations that were in the construction of the 2012 APEC Summit objects. As noted at the meeting, the number of workers and organizations of every month will only increase, and therefore requires strict control. Number of employees at the facility by the end of 2012 will be increased from 5,000 to 7,000.
On April 2013 Minister of the Far Eastern Developement Viktor Ishayev said that 2014 will be the busiest year in the construction period and the number of workers will rise to 7,000. He also said he is sorry for the delay in the reconstruction and development of the sites for the workers residences that were handed from the Russian Ministry of Defense in Uglegorsk. On the Cosmonautics Day in 12 of same month, Putin suggested to name the town that will be built near the cosmodrome after Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, saying that there is not a single locality in Russia that would bear the name of the scientist.
Development of the Vostochny Cosmodrome is expected to have a positive impact on the economy of the relatively poorly developed Russian Far East. The Russian government has a strategic policy to bring high-tech companies into the Far Eastern region, and several enterprises involved in the manned space flight program are expected to move their activities there when the new cosmodrome is completed. The development of the new site is also expected to dramatically increase employment in the towns of Uglegorsk, Shimanovsk, Svobodny and others. According to a 2009 estimate, the construction will cost 400 billion rubles ($13.5 billion). Along with the launch pads and processing facilities, an airport and a satellite city will be constructed. The city will be designed to accommodate for 35,000 people as well as for tourists. It will contain a full supporting infrastructure with schools, kindergartens and clinics. Architect Dmitry Pshenichnikov has stated that the city is to become a "one-of-its-kind scientific and tourist space town with a unique design and a beautiful landscape". When completed, the cosmodrome will permanently employ 20,000-25,000 people.
In November 2012, press reports indicated that the Russian government is having difficulty in finding a good use for the new spaceport, and that other government ministries have been avoiding the project while "calling the project a 'dolgostroi,' which is Russian for an endless construction boondoggle."
"The first launch from Vostochny unlikely to occur until 2018 at the earliest due to construction delays."