Vostochny's processing area features new architecture
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. Although it has been a traditional feature for many launch sites around the world, the processing facility at Vostochny was conceived to have a truly innovative architecture.
Aerial view of the processing complex on July 1, 2014.
The rocket and spacecraft preparation facility
Traditionally, Russian launch sites had separate processing and assembly facilities for each type of rocket. In many cases, a full complement of support infrastructure would have to be built even for individual launch pads. These large and expensive facilities were often sprawling over a considerable area, all requiring their own roads, communications lines, personnel and residential areas.
In contrast, for Vostochny, developers at OAO Ipromashprom, (the main architectural contractor on the project), designed a single centralized processing and assembly hub, which would consolidate all preparation activities of the space center. Rockets of various sizes and their payloads would still be prepared inside their custom-built work sites, or modules, however they would all be located next to each other and linked by a single hallway known as "transborder gallery". Such an innovative solution promised to minimize the volume of each individual building, eliminate the duplication of support infrastructure, keep all spacecraft preparation activities under one roof and enable future expansion of the facility.
A total area of the processing complex was expected to reach 39,000 square meters. Giant windows of the complex would have a total area of more than 13,000 square meters.
Publicly available blueprints also hinted at the plans to expand the processing complex westwards in order to accommodate a new assembly building for the Angara family of rockets in the second phase of development in Vostochny. Optimistic plans in 2012 aimed to bring Angara to Vostochny as early as 2018 to carry manned missions from the site. In November 2015, Russian officials said that the new vehicle assembly building for Angara rockets would be built along with a new preparation facility for the PTK NP spacecraft to ensure the first unmanned launch at the end of 2021 and the first manned mission from the site in 2023.
The main building of the processing complex, MIK RN, is dedicated to the assembly of launch vehicles.
The spacecraft processing building has specialized work sites for processing and handling various satellites, Fregat and Volga upper stages and payload sections integrated under their payload fairings.
Fueling and neutralization station, ZNS
On the opposite end from the transborder gallery, the spacecraft processing building is flanked by the the ZNS station. It was designed specifically for fueling of the spacecraft prior to their mating with the launch vehicles, which required to include this facility into the first phase of construction to be completed before the end of 2015. In addition to storage for hazardous propellants, the ZNS building also included means for collecting and neutralization of industrial waste and hazardous vapors. Floors of the three-story, climate-controlled facility were paved with special acid-resistant tiles.
The main transfer hallway (transborder gallery) also designated GP-12 and developed at KB Motor had a total area of 10,000 square meters. It would sport a pair of giant movable platforms or "transborders." Weighing 200-ton and measuring 6 by 28 meters, this truss structures would shuttle back and forth along rail tracks on four dual bogies, carrying cargo with a mass of up to 120 tons. The platform was equipped with a system of sensors and drivers that enable an operator to maintain a highly accurate vertical and horizontal position of the cargo relative to the rail line.
After a spacecraft or a rocket component had completed the processing inside its work site, it would roll onto the platform, which would then transfer it to the main assembly hall for final integration. (619)
The transborder gallery promised to save time and improve safety during the assembly of rocket and space systems as compared to the use of cranes.
According to the original plans approved in 2010, the half-a-kilometer-long transfer hallway would be connected to the south sides of four processing buildings:
In addition, the same transfer hallway was to be connected to the north sides of five support buildings with storage rooms, fueling and power stations.
When the development of the processing complex in Vostochny finally reached the construction phase in May 2012, visuals gleaned from reports in the official media revealed that only around a half of the original design had survived the reality check. According to a statement from the Spetsstroi contractor, a total of 24 buildings and facilities were included in the first phase of the general plan.
Scheduled for completion at the end of 2015, the scaled down complex still sported a cavernous 180 by 60-meter launch vehicle assembly building. It was originally intended for Rus-M rockets, but after the cancellation of the project in 2011, the facility was re-purposed for a smaller Soyuz-2 and Soyuz-2-1v launch vehicles. The rocket assembly building was flanked by a spacecraft processing facility, which would now house work sites for unmanned satellites.
Most importantly, the innovative centralized architecture of the overall complex has been retained, with the foundation of the transfer hallway clearly visible on satellite photos of the construction site in 2012.
On its south side, the transborder gallery is also flanked by the so-called "Energoblok," the facility for power supply of the entire processing complex and for battery charging. The facility will also contain the main console of the centralized automated system for the control of water and gas supply, heating, air conditioning, ventilation and sewer systems of the entire processing complex. The system should ensure clean-room environment inside the processing halls of the center matching the R9 standard for air purity.
Along with main processing complex for rockets and spacecraft, Site 2 would be home to various support facilities such as a boiler, a propellant storage, a fire station along with a complex belonging to the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
Roskosmos scheduled the preliminary design for the support facilities to take place from May 2011 to March 2012. Proposed support infrastructure included:
The project relied on already completed designs for the Rus-M rocket. The construction was to be split into two phases: the first stage with a completion date in 2015 and a second stage with a completion in 2018.
The propellant storage
The propellant complex located around 10 kilometers from the main processing complex of the launch site occupied an area of around 40 hectares. It was designed to store up to 39 tons of oxidizers in special mobile containers with a volume ranging from 100 to 2,000 litters and up to 84 tons of hydrogen peroxide. The facility would also store rocket fuel, technical gases used in rockets, means of propellant neutralization and a facility for testing of gases and other chemicals.
Construction activities at Site 2
The construction at Site 2 started roughly in parallel with the work at the Soyuz launch pad in the spring and summer 2012. According to the official press, foundations for a total of 15 facilities of the technical complex had to be finished by the end of 2012. Signs posted at the construction site of the processing complex quoted completion dates as September and December 2015.
Simultaneously, construction was picking up at various secondary locations beyond Site 2. By the beginning of 2013, Dalspetsstroi (the main local contractor), reported the completion of renovation at five formers barracks capable of accommodating more than 1,000 workers.
Ledyanaya train station
The Ledyanaya ("icy") train station at the junction between the main railway artery of the space center and the federal railway line was also under renovation, along with the construction of power lines, railway and automobile roads. Workers also broke ground at the industrial support zone located southeast of Site 2.
Key milestones in the development of the Soyuz processing complex in Vostochny:
2012 May - September 2015: The official dates of construction of the processing complex at Site 2. (As of 2012)
2012 July - December 2015: The official dates of construction of the Soyuz rocket stages storage facility. (As of 2012)
Construction specifications of the processing complex in Vostochny (Site 2):
A scale model of the processing complex demonstrated to Roskosmos officials in 2010. Credit: Amur-Info
Originally, plans envisioned as many as 10 interconnected buildings in the processing complex in Vostochny. Credit: Amur-Info
Key elements and layout of infrastructure in Vostochny presented at a review meeting in July 2012, showing a possible expansion of the processing complex to the west (bottom left). Credit: TsSKB Progress
Artist renderings of the spacecraft checkout and assembly building in Vostochny as it was envisioned in 2012. Credit: Ipromashprom
Internal layout of the transborder gallery. Credit: Spetsstroi
Artist rendering of the rocket processing building in Vostochny. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos
Beginning of construction at the technical complex in Vostochny around the first half of the summer 2012. Credit: Spetsstroi
Beginning of construction at the technical complex in Vostochny around December 2012. A blueprint visible in the photo apparently shows the first phase of the facility to be completed in 2015. Credit: Spetsstroi
Foundations of transborder gallery around March 2013. Credit: Spetsstroi
Artist rendering of a fire station at Site 2 in Vostochny. Credit: Ipromashprom
Artist rendering of an engineering and laboratory facility. Credit: Ipromashprom
The almost completed transborder gallery around September 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Spetsstroi
Spacecraft processing building in Vostochny in September 2015. Click to enlarge. Credit: Russian government
Processing complex in Vostochny in October. Click to enlarge. Credit: Spetsstroi