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Vostochny hosts its first launch!

After quarter of a century of planning, a decade of design and half a decade of construction, Russia's new spaceport intended to replace Baikonur witnessed its inaugural orbital launch on April 28.

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DEVELOPMENT HISTORY

Plesetsk

svobodny

Before Vostochny, there was Svobodny

After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Russian government made plans for building a new space launch site at the disused missile base near Svobodny in the nation's Far East to replace Baikonur in newly independent Kazakhstan. However no money could be found for the project, until booming oil prices refilled Kremlin's coffers.

2007

2007: The decision

After months of preliminary studies, the Russian president Vladimir Putin formally approved the construction of Vostochny with Decree No. 1473 signed on November 6. However, the Kremlin was yet to allocate a budget for the costly undertaking.

2008

2008: The paperwork

In February, Roskosmos approved the "Plan of priority actions for the implementation of the Presidential Decree on the Vostochny development." On June 20, the Presidium of the Scientific and Technical Council at Roskosmos evaluated and approved the system project for the Vostochny launch site.

2009

2009: The money

The Russian government finally issued its own approval (Order No. 30-r) for the construction of Vostochny on January 14. On September 1, the Kremlin awarded the entire construction project to its military agency Spetsstroi and allocated funding for the development of the Rus-M rocket for Vostochny.

2010

2010: The final commitment

After three years of doubts, President Putin made an official commitment to fund the construction of the new launch site. On June 26, Roskosmos responded with an authorization No. 104, on the organization of the work for the construction of Vostochny facilities. Despite promises and plans, the work at the site did not start.

2011

2011: Change of plans

In 2011, Roskosmos cancelled the Rus-M project, leaving the future spaceport without a rocket to launch. Pressed by the Kremlin to find a solution, the agency had no other ideas but to build another launch pad for the Soyuz rocket. First construction activities in Vostochny finally began in the fall but were moving ahead slowly.

2012

2012: Digging the foundation

According to the official documentation, the construction of the first phase of the Soyuz-2 processing complex at Site 2 officially started in May 2012 and was scheduled for completion in September 2015.

Voatochny

2013: From clay to stone

In 2013, the familiar concrete structure of the giant launch pad for the Soyuz rocket started rising from its foundation in Vostochny. Multiple support facilities were also under construction.

2014

2014: Building the walls

During 2014, a concrete structure of the Soyuz pad was mostly completed. Elsewhere around the space center, technical processing facilities, residential area and administrative buildings were all taking shape.

2015

2015: Racing to the finish

During 2015, the construction of the first launch pad at Russia's newest space center was scheduled to be completed to host the first launch of the Soyuz rocket before the end of the year. However in October, the Kremlin finally admitted that the first launch would have to be delayed until the following year.

2016

2016: Preparing for the first launch

From March 21 to March 25, Soyuz-2-1a rocket was tested on its brand new launch pad, opening door to the first mission from Vostochny on April 27, or nearly a decade after the last rocket flew from the site. A Soyuz successfully delivered three satellites into orbit on April 28.

FACILITY GUIDE: Soyuz launch complex.
soyuz-2

Soyuz rockets for Vostochny

Specifically for its use in Vostochny, the Soyuz-2 family was expected to get modest internal updates to enable the fueled rocket to remain on the launch pad for up to 100 hours and withstand the rigors of transportation up to 10,000 kilometers from its manufacturing plant in Samara to the Russian Far East.

Soyuz pad

Soyuz launch pad

The launch complex for the Soyuz-2 rocket in Vostochny, designated 371SK14, featured a "classic" pad for this veteran rocket. Up to 50 companies around Russia supplied equipment for the launch pad, which would include 83 structures and 52 different systems.

MBO

Mobile Service Tower

Painted in elegant blue and white and standing almost 50 meters high, the Mobile Service Tower, MBO (for Mobilnaya Bashnya Obsluzhivaniya), is designed to provide personnel access to the Soyuz rocket during the countdown to liftoff from its launch pad in Vostochny. The structure can be also used to service the pad after launch and to process the rocket in case of an aborted liftoff.

KO

Service Cabin

Following the delivery of the Soyuz rocket to the launch pad, the Service Cabin, KO (a Russian abbreviation for "Kabina Obslyzhnivaniya"), moves into position around the wide base of the rocket under the launch pad. A series of access bridges then are deployed and raised vertically to form a three-level scaffolding just inches from the vehicle.

kp

Launch control facility

The famous "klyuch na start" (key to launch) command for Soyuz rockets in Vostochny will be given from a brand-new blockhouse sporting more-than-half-a-meter-thick walls. Located less than half a kilometer from the launch pad, the windowless structure will become the nerve center responsible for the liftoff.

OTHER FACILITIES

Angara

Angara launch pad

After the cancellation of the Rus-M project in 2011, Russian space agency hatched plans to bring the Angara launch vehicle to Vostochny. The launch facility, apparenlty designated 1A, could be built at the same site that was originally eyed for the Rus-M's dual pad.

superheavy

Pad for a super-heavy launcher

From the outset of the Vostochny project, Roskosmos assumed that at the conclusion of the third phase of the space center's development, it will be able to host a super-heavy launch vehicle with a payload up to 100 tons.

TP

Processing area

At the future Russian space center in Vostochny, all preparations of rockets and spacecraft before their roll out to the launch pad will be conducted at a 104.3-hectare facility identified as Technical Area, or Tekhnicheskaya Pozitsiya, TP, located at Site 2.

MIK RN

Processing area: MIK RN

All types of Soyuz rockets departing from Vostochny are put together inside the cavernous Launch Vehicle Assembly and Testing Building, abbreviated in Russian as MIK RN.

mik-ka

Processing area: Spacecraft Assembly Building, MIK KA

Clearly built for the future, the large spacecraft processing building in Vostochny was designed to prepare and check payloads before their integration with the launch vehicle. The the facility was directly connected to a fueling station, where satellites could be loaded with hazardous propellants.

KSISO

Ground control

Like most launch sites around the world, Vostochny had to be equipped with its own network of ground stations, which would track and control space missions originating at the spaceport. The ground station closest to the launch site became known as Vostochny Command and Measurement Point or VKIP.

airport

Airport in Vostochny

The world's largest aircraft, carrying Mars-bound ships, and winged shuttles, returning from lunar missions, may one day come together at the planned airport in the Russian Far East. However before these dreams can become reality, the Vostochny airport has its most difficult mission -- to get born.

Residential

Residential area

The 2007 decision by the Russian government to build the Vostochny Cosmodrome required a whole new city which would become a residential hub for the future space center. At the time, only a few 1960s-era apartment blocks of the former military base known as Uglegorsk ("coal town") stood at the site.

downrange

Drop zones for Vostochny

Very early in the search for the new Russian space port in the early 1990s, experts favored the old Soviet missile base near the town of Svobodny. This remote location in the Amur Region would enable space launchers to reach a wide variety of orbits, while avoiding densely populated areas or foreign territory.
Plesetsk

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