14 October 2015 News

Putin delays first launch from new Russian cosmodrome

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday a delay for the first launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, from December 25, 2015, to the spring of 2016.

At a meeting at the facility in Russia’s Far East with officials and managers responsible for construction, Putin said that while the ideal would be to have the launch before April 12—Cosmonautics Day in Russia—“a last-minute rush is unnecessary.”

Construction of the $3 billion cosmodrome has faced delays, a hunger strike by workers last spring in a protest over unpaid wages, and a threatened shut-off of electricity due to unpaid bills. Authorities have initiated 20 criminal investigations for theft, fraud, and other offences, Russia’s Prime News Agency reported.

Vostochny’s completion had been planned for December. The facility is intended to replace the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which Russia has been leasing. The first launch expected from Vostochny is the Lomonosov and Aist satellites, developed in collaboration with university students in Moscow and Samara, Interfax reported.

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