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First among equals

There was "Free", became "Eastern"

Amur Region as the center of Russian cosmonautics - perhaps 10 years ago, this phrase would have caused only bewilderment: how can a region with a population of less than a million people and three universities (and one training technical specialists) become the flagship of the most complex industry? And nevertheless, the first civilian cosmodrome in the history of Russia will have an Amur registration.

First among equals
The fact that the largest world power needs its own civilian cosmodrome, space industry experts started talking immediately after the collapse of the USSR, but there was no opportunity to implement this project then. They were able only after almost fifteen years later, when by the presidential decree of November 6, 2007, in the place of the liquidated 2-th the test cosmodrome of the Ministry of Defense with the romantic name "Svobodny" was created by another, with a name no less sonorous and pleasant - "Vostochny".

There are several reasons for the appearance of such a large and important object practically on the "edge of geography":

- firstly, Vostochny is at the same latitude as Baikonur: launching a rocket from the Amur region will allow it to be put into Earth's orbit as soon as possible and save on fuel;
- secondly, given the low population density in the Far East, the rocket stages will fall on uninhabited territories;
- thirdly, the creation of such an object will allow attracting multibillion-dollar investments in the Far Eastern economy in general, and the country's industry in particular.

The area of ​​the new "space harbor" will include several launching "tables" at once: for the SOYUZ launch vehicle (under construction at the moment) and for super-heavy rockets of the Angara type (two structures, the work is planned to start in 2016 The total estimated cost of the mega-project exceeded 400 billion rubles, almost a third of which is already being developed. So, only for the preparation of 11 facilities of the so-called start-up minimum will require 110,7 billion rubles.

According to scientists from the Russian space industry, the investment will pay off with interest, because now our country pays considerable rent to Kazakhstan for the use of Baikonur - $ 115 million a year - and invests another $ 100 million in the operation of its facilities. According to the current agreement, the lease will last until 2050, but already by 2030-mu Russia intends to carry out 90% of launches from its own cosmodromes (Plesetsk and Vostochny).

The first construction work in the Amur taiga began in winter 2012: by the summer 2015-th the builders had to erect 400 structures (120 of which were technical and launch facilities); build an airfield with a 4,5 km runway; to lay 88 km of utilities, to build more than 170 km of road and railways, at least 30 social, cultural and domestic facilities and 42 more residential buildings.

But already in 2013, difficulties began at the construction site: at first, the management reported about monthly delays, and later the top officials of the state announced almost disruptions of all space plans: due to confusion with project documentation and theft at some facilities, discrepancies with the original schedules were estimated in hundreds days. After the preparation of the facilities for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin declared the cosmodrome "the main construction site of the country", and after a visit to 2014-m on the "Vostochny" of Vladimir Putin, the construction site was taken under special control and the objects related to the "start-up minimum" were identified: starting, technical and measuring complexes, roads, housing for specialists.

Over the past year and a half, the situation seems to have been rectified: in the spring 2015-th railway communication was established with the facilities of Vostochny, and as of August 7, the readiness of the facilities of Dalspetsstroy (one of the main subcontractors) was 95%.

In the spring, it became known about a change in other dates - the first manned launch. It will not take place in 2018-m, as originally planned, but only after 2020, it will be carried out using the Angara-A5V launch vehicle. The reason is in the revision of priorities. According to the leadership of the space industry, taking into account the prospects of Russian cosmonautics, it is necessary to create an infrastructure for the latest spacecraft, which will subsequently go to the Moon and Mars.

Among the effects that the construction site has already given, there are also positive ones. Thanks to the project, about 200 defense enterprises across the country have finally received long-awaited orders. The "blood" of Russian cosmonautics has been significantly renewed: as part of the implementation of the federal space program until 2020, training of young people in aerospace specialties has begun in several Russian universities. Far Eastern AmSU was added to the existing western MAI, YURGU and SSAU, the first graduates of which this year came to Vostochny as engineers. Student construction brigades started working in a new way - Vostochny became one of the main youth construction projects in the country. If in 2012-m only 50 people worked here, in 2013-m there were 200 of them, a year later - 500, and in 2015-m the number of students employed at the "main construction site" has grown to 1200 people. And finally, near the closed city of Uglegorsk, the construction of an entire city for 30 thousand inhabitants, named after the academician and creator of cosmonautics Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, began, where specialists are planning to provide service housing.

According to preliminary information, the launch of the Soyuz-2-1A rocket with the Volga launching unit and the Russian satellites Lomonosov and Aist-2D from Vostochny is to take place on December 25. The government of the country believes that there should be no talk of postponing the construction schedule for the cosmodrome.
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