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Space Science

Russia's New Cosmodome Approved 83

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the goink-back-into-space dept.
eldavojohn writes "You may recall discussing Baikonur, the Kazakhstan city rented by Russia that has been used as a launch site for quite some time. Today, Putin has just approved construction of Vostochny between 2010 and 2018 which will be positioned in the far east of Russia to complement the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the northern part of the country. This is not bad news for Kazakhstan as the director of the Russian Federal Space Agency has announced they plan to operate this facility alongside Baikonur."
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Russia's New Cosmodome Approved

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  • by arivanov (12034) on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:15AM (#21451769) Homepage
    Actualy when the Mria (An225) launched the customer was there. The Russian space program, Buran, the military complex, you name it. All of these were mothballed or frozen 15 years ago and not entirely unexpectedly so did the Mria. For the last 15 years its little brother - the An124 did the heavy hawling. Now the market for ultraheavy loads is opening again so it was once again taken to the skies: http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1296054/L/ [airliners.net]. Compared to it the A380 is a dwarf.

    IMO while awesome it is not that much of a technological achievement. It may be big, but it ain't revolutionary in any sense.

    Now this http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1295104/M/ [airliners.net] is something out of a different league. It may not take a large load, but its take-off and landing requirements (a field only slightly bigger than a football pitch) are in the realm of the insane.

    Same for some of the specs for this one: http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1262070/M/ [airliners.net].

    Both of these are so far ahead of anything in their class it is not even funny.
  • by mev (36558) on Friday November 23, 2007 @05:12AM (#21452237) Homepage
    I strongly believe they will deliver on this given their track record.

    Note that the announcement comes one week before the Russian Parliamentary elections set for December 2nd. Putin is term limited as President but has vowed to run for Parliament and speculated that he could continue to rule as a strong prime minister.

    What has actually been announced is a feasibility study to decide a location by 2010, and intentions to build start in 2018. The Amur Region that is named is the same one where Putin announced on February 26th, 2003 that he was opening a new road across Siberia and that 2008 it would be paved. That was coincidentally three weeks before the last Russian Presidential election. I have been across the Amur Highway this year (2007) and while a lot of good work has been done, there is no way the Amur Highway will be entirely paved in 2008, nor for that matter by 2010 (Putin's last announcement on the topic in 2006) or in my opinion by 2018.

    So when I think of "track record" and I think of some of the engineering difficulties of the Amur Region (think permafrost, little infrastructure,...) and I put it in the context of Russian politics, then while this may eventually be built, I doubt it will be done by 2018 mentioned in the article. All that is promised so far is a study in 2010.
  • by Chief Wongoller (1081431) on Friday November 23, 2007 @06:40AM (#21452543)
    "This is a gamble on Putin's behalf, but it can pay off big for Russia, because people will be contracting with them for launches of private satellites (new ones, and replacements for existing satellites.)"

    That's not what the Russians seem to have in mind. First deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov has stated that "urgent measures needed to be taken to develop the country as a leading space power, rather than as a provider of launch services for other countries." and "Russia should not turn into a country providing only launching services". In addition manned launches will not be made from the new base until 2018, and the Khazak base is only guaranteed to remain in use until 2020. This is about Russia re-establishing itself as a world power and as such is driven by nationalism, so who needs, or rather wants, the cooperation of a renegade break-away state?

    Source of my info is domainb,com <domainb.com/industry/aerospace/20071121_vostochny.htm>
  • by mev (36558) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:15AM (#21452697) Homepage
    Here is a link to PDF document [larouchepub.com] describing some of the motivations including:
    • Avoid depopulation. 16 million people in Russian Far East and decreasing. 2.4 people per km2 vs 80 people per km2 across the Amur River in China. The idea is to get skilled manufacturing jobs.
    • Use existing base of Uglegorsk. Keeps it from being shut down and has past experience with launching satellites.
    • Leverage other infrastructure such as roads and railroads.
    As I stated in the parent posting, Putin's motivations for announcing something now likely also include the upcoming December 2nd parliamentary elections, so don't expect anything to happen quickly.
  • Re:Location? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tom Womack (8005) <tom@womack.net> on Friday November 23, 2007 @09:45AM (#21453323) Homepage
    In case you haven't noticed, Russia doesn't get very near the equator; they built the original facility in Baikonur because that was as far south as you could get in the Soviet Union and have a reasonable region of Soviet Union over which to drop discarded rocket stages.

    The southernmost points of Russia are in the Caucasus, but that's a decidedly unstable area of the world, and rocket stages dropped off by things heading east would drop on Kazakhstan, which the Kazakhs obviously don't want. If you rule out the Caucasus, the next-southernmost points are at the North Korean border in the far east; there is a constant Russian worry that the Chinese might want to expand into Siberia if it's left empty, and so they'd like to build facilities there, especially the sort of facilities which set up clusters of skilled people who'd bring non-resource-dependent income to Amur.

    The proposed site is Svobodny, which is just over the Amur from China, and not too far from the Komsomolsk-na-Amur rocket factory.

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&sll=54.162434,-3.647461&sspn=8.188315,20.566406&ie=UTF8&ll=51.410771,128.19191&spn=0.272388,0.6427&t=k&z=11&iwloc=addr&om=1 [google.co.uk]

    Obviously, an equatorial site would be better, and indeed there's a Soyuz pad being built at Sinnamary, in French Guyana, five degrees from the equator and about twenty miles from the Arianespace facility at Kourou. First launch from there will be late 2008, but it's only Soyuz so not particularly heavy lift, and I suspect the Russians might be less keen than EU nations at having their military satellites launched from French soil.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2007 @10:53AM (#21453803)
    JSC is not a "spaceport". There is only one launch site in the U.S. that to date has been used for manned launches, and that is KSC/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Vandenberg Air Force Base in California almost became a second U.S. manned launch site when preparations were underway to fly shuttles from SLC-6, but that venture was abandoned in the wake of the first Shuttle accident.

    Unmanned U.S. orbital launches have been conducted from KSC/CCAFS, from Wallops Island in Virginia, and from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (A small air launched satellite might have been successfully fired from a Douglas Skyray originating from China Lake in the late '50's, but orbit could not be confirmed). Other rocket launch sites that would arguably be prospective sites for orbital launches might include Kodiak Island, Alaska, Barking Sands, Hawaii, White Sands and various island sites in the Pacific, including Omelek Island in the Kwajalein archipeligo where SpaceX has flown two Falcon rockets to date, though neither achieved orbit). Kistler was talking about launching over Dept. of Energy land in Nevada. Matagorda Island, Texas was host to Gary Hudson's unsuccessful Percheron (which was destroyed during testing) and to Space Services' suborbital Conestoga rocket (based on an Aries sounding rocket). This doesn't attempt to consider all the other places that Orbital Sciences might stage an airlaunched Pegasus flight from, or the SeaLaunch platform. If we limit consideration to sites within the boundary of a U.S. state, that is either presently launching satellites or those that are presently equipped and actively ready to accomodate an orbital launch, the list probably consist of four locations: KSC/CCAFS, Wallops, Vandenberg, and Kodiak.

    By comparison, the Russians to date have flown manned missions only out of Baikonur. They also have launched satellites from Plesetsk, from Kapustin Yar and from Svobodny (this is not counting submarine launched flights, which are conducted at sea).

    Future launch sites aside, that means that both the U.S. and Russia have four orbital sites (current or past) and one manned orbital launch site each. The only distinction is that the Russian manned launch site is on leased property in another country, so their motivation to create a suitable launch site within their borders is understandable. These numbers are likely to change to one degree or another in the future, both through Russia's search for alternative launch sites and the development of new, private spaceports in the U.S.

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