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Entering into a new orbit

Cosmodrome Vostochny in the difficult matter of the revival of astronautics plays a central role.

Entering into a new orbit

On 52, the anniversary of the first manned space flight, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the construction site of the new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur Region, near the village of Uglegorsk. After the visit to the construction site, the head of state held a meeting on the development of the space industry in the country.

How astronautics began

The construction of the first test site for launch vehicles in the USSR began almost immediately after the Second World War ended and the world became a platform for confrontation between the two most influential states. A new structure appeared within the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union - the State Central Polygon (GCP). They decided to build the site a hundred kilometers southeast of Stalingrad, not far from the village of Kapustin Yar in the Astrakhan region: here the work of transport routes was established, there was also free land for the construction of the test site, as well as for the further fall of missile parts.

On October 18, 1947, for the first time in the Soviet Union, the first ballistic missile was launched from here. In the period from October 18 to November 13, 11 V-2 missiles were launched, of which 9 reached the target, albeit with a large deviation from the specified trajectory, and two crashed. Until 1957, Kapustin Yar was the only test site for Soviet ballistic missiles. The tests of the R-1, R-2, R-5, R-12, R-14 missiles and others were carried out at the test site. And everything was fine as long as the range did not exceed 1-1,5 thousand km. But when work began on a fundamentally new multistage ballistic missile of intercontinental range R-7, the former test base of the test site was cramped. The range of the R-7 exceeded 8 thousand km, the flight route passed in an easterly direction practically through the entire Asian part of the Soviet Union. Thus, the flight tests of the P-7 were fraught with enormous difficulties, including the alienation of too many areas for the fall of the spent stages. It was then that the need arose to create a new landfill.

Initially, the commission, which chose a place to build a new site, fixed its gaze on the western coast of the Caspian Sea (Astrakhan region and Dagestan): good transport routes, the presence of desert areas, a favorable life climate and the proximity of the Volga, a source of fresh water, spoke in favor of this option. And only one problem has kept scientists from building - mountainous terrain. Still not familiar with the prospects of autonomous missile control systems, specialists were afraid of the loss of radio control of the ground station.

In the end, a desert was chosen for the landfill in Kazakhstan east of the Aral Sea, near one of the largest rivers in Central Asia, the Syr Darya and the Moscow-Tashkent railway. Important advantages of the site as a launch site were the number of sunny days per year (more than three hundred) and its relative proximity to the equator. Due to the latter, the natural rotation of the Earth was used to accelerate the starting rocket, which is very beneficial from the viewpoint of the energy expended (in the North, the centrifugal force of the Earth is almost reduced to zero, which will subsequently become one of the insurmountable obstacles to the economically profitable operation of the Plesetsk cosmodrome).

Already at the beginning of 1957, the main structures of the Baikonur cosmodrome (from the Kazakh "Baikonir" - rich valley) were built, which allowed the flight tests of the world's first military intercontinental missile R-7, which later became a peaceful launch vehicle and began to ensure the success of the global cosmonautics - the launch of the world's first artificial earth satellite 4 October 1957, and the first manned space flight.

In the same year, in the northern taiga, missile complexes of the first intercontinental ballistic missile compound in our country (the Angara object) were built and put on combat duty. The cold war from land, water and air gradually spread into space. Launch complexes of the future military spaceport Plesetsk located away from the southern borders, along which the construction of American military air bases unfolded. The dense and difficult northern taiga made it easy to disguise this strategically important object. In the summer of 1963, the state decided to use launch complexes in Plesetsk for spacecraft launches.

Uninspired freedom

After the collapse of the USSR and the actual loss of the Baikonur cosmodrome, Russia was faced with the need to create a new test and launch site. If launches of space vehicles by launch vehicles of the light and middle classes could be carried out from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, the issue of launching heavy launch vehicles was particularly acute. Launch complexes of the Proton launch vehicle were only available at Baikonur.

The Svobodny Spaceport was created on the basis of the disbanded 27 missile division of the strategic missile forces. In addition to the usual factors, the infrastructure that remained after the reduction of the missile division: warehouses, housing, a school, a hospital, and so on, favored the choice of the site of the Free City. The new cosmodrome had high hopes. Inhabitants of nearby settlements were interested with hope and followed the course of events on the cosmodrome. Everyone connected their future with him. But the cosmodrome lasted only ten years: after five launches, Free was disbanded by presidential decree as having no military tasks. The official documents of Roskosmos said that "its functioning is costly for the Russian Defense Ministry, and the tasks it solves can be accomplished using other cosmodromes." As a result, more than 60% of jobs were lost, about 2 thousand high-class specialists were left without work.

The main problem of the first Far Eastern cosmodrome experts call the half-hearted nature of decisions regarding its development. Deciding that it would be cheaper to just rewrite obsolete military missiles into space ones, the officials gave the order to create a conversion project "Strela." He immediately caused a wave of indignation of the environmental community due to the use of toxic fuel in it - heptyl. An alternative to it was the deployment to the Free Site to launch more modern and environmentally friendly Angara launch vehicles, but this project required too much government investment.

After the “conservation” of Svobodny, Russia has two spaceports left: a civilian overseas Baikonur and a military Plesetsk located in the North. Due to the geographical location, launches from Plesetsk to the geostationary orbit are approximately 30% more expensive and more complicated than from the Free one. As for Baikonur, it costs the Russian budget 6,16 billion rubles per year: the launch of the cosmodrome costs about 5 billion rubles a year (the cost of renting the Baikonur complex is about 3,5 billion rubles a year; about 1,5 billion rubles a year Russia spends on maintenance of spaceport facilities - data taken from the decree "On the budget of the city of Baikonur for 2012 year"). From the federal budget of Russia to the budget of the city of Baikonur annually carried out free of charge in the amount of 1,16 billion rubles. Not to mention the fact that in recent years, Kazakhstan has blocked the launches of Russian missiles under various pretexts several times, and also that after 40 years of intensive exploitation, Baikonur requires a complete modernization under the new Angara-type missile systems.

The problem of the crisis of the space industry in Russia has risen sharply: the country has practically exhausted the scientific and technical background created in the last century, and for the stable development of the industry we lacked profitable defense and civilian space programs.

The sun rises from the East

According to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, 2006 has been a year for Russia to become a year of transition from a stabilization and savings policy to a development policy. The conservation of the Svobodny Cosmodrome, at first glance, did not bother with this statement, nor did it bind with the adopted strategic position that the Far East should become a place attractive for people’s lives, and with the State program to assist the voluntary resettlement of compatriots to Russia. However, already in 2007, it turned out that this was not about minimizing space development in the region, but about launching a much larger and more daring project than one could imagine.

Speaking about the need for independent space activity for our country, researcher A. Fadeev writes: “The level of such independence is determined by the possibility of promptly launching into space of all types of GHGs (payload, or payload of a spacecraft. Approx. Author.) national tasks in the required time frame. And this possibility is ensured only if there are launch vehicles that allow any necessary cargo to be put into space, and with the exclusion of factors hindering the functioning of space centers and areas of incidence of separating missile parts. These factors should include the need to coordinate the fact of preparation and launch, as well as the engagement of the fall areas with the leadership of those states in whose territory the corresponding ground-based space infrastructure facilities are located. ”

Today, Russia has started to create not just one more point of launching vehicles - on the site of the former unprofitable landfill, a new, modern, full-fledged space center is growing. And despite the skeptical grin of those who, after hearing the phrase "innovation center", immediately recalls Skolkovo, the prospects of this center allow putting it on a par with the most promising projects of our time.

As the main options for locating the cosmodrome, the Eastern Independent Commission selected two - the Amur village of Uglegorsk and Sovetskaya Gavan (Khabarovsk Territory). Priority was given to Uglegorsk due to lower seismicity, better flight trajectory, more developed rail service and cost savings. The site in the Khabarovsk Territory would have cost 380 billion rubles, while the cost of the Amur is about 250 billion.

In the case of a launch from the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory there would be an extremely high risk of rocket parts entering the territory of neighboring Japan. The oil-producing objects of the Sakhalin region could be hit. Naturally, this would lead to destruction, victims and, possibly, even international scandals. When launching rockets in the Amur region, the flight trajectory passes over a relatively deserted territory. The latitude of the site, which is being built near Uglegorsk, almost coincides with the latitude of the Baikonur cosmodrome.

Design offices, assembly plants, research laboratories, a technical university - all this will be built in the Amur region and will ensure the launch of new carrier rockets as early as 2015, and 2018 plans to launch ships with astronauts on board. From the East it is planned to launch manned missiles, as well as to work on the development of outer space: "Modules of orbital stations, interplanetary space facilities for studying and developing the Moon, Mars, and other planets will be launched here," Vladimir Putin said. It is expected that the cosmodrome will be used not only by Russian specialists, but also by their colleagues from the United States, Europe and other countries.

The basic task of the new space center is the implementation of promising projects in the field of launch vehicles and new spacecrafts for various purposes, as well as the development and production of rocket engines, the power of which should exceed the power of existing ones by an order of magnitude.

It is planned that to 2020 year from here will launch superheavy rockets. As the president told during a video communication session with the International Space Station, initially the maximum mass of such missiles was to be 55 t, but currently there is a discussion of a larger mass. "For a long time, priority was given to manned projects. In different years they were spent on 40 on 58% of the budget of the space program, often to the detriment of other directions. As a result, we lagged behind the world level in a number of areas, for example, through remote sensing of the earth, personal satellite communication systems, registration and rescue of objects in distress, and so on. A noticeable separation from the leading space powers was formed in us and in technologies that provide programs for the development of the so-called deep space. Of course, we must preserve everything that was accumulated in the manned part, but it is necessary to tighten up other areas, "the head of state said, the primary tasks of the future cosmodrome.

Now the population of Uglegorsk, a small urban village in the Amur region, is less than 6 thousand inhabitants. However, for 10 years on the site of the village should build a city in which 25 thousand people can reside. The majority of the able-bodied population is expected to be involved in the maintenance of the cosmodrome.

Today, in many respects, it is precisely near Uglegorsk that the question of whether the Far East of Russia will become a raw materials appendage of the West and Japan with China or an outpost of Russian development will be resolved. And allowed, it seems, in our favor.

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