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Putin to chair meeting on spaceports, award first Gagarin Prize

April 12, 2012, 8:00 UTC+3

The space industry remains one of the unquestionable priorities and real competitive advantages of Russia

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MOSCOW, April 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Moscow’s planetarium on Thursday, April 12, to chair a meeting on the development of Russian spaceports for long-term space exploration programmes.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, acting Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Head Vladimir Popovkin, Head of the Federal Agency for Special Construction Projects Grigory Naginsky, the governors of several regions, and officials from the relevant ministries and enterprises will attend the meeting.

Putin will also award the first government Gagarin Prize. Established for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight, the one million rouble prize is awarded every five years since 2011.

The space industry remains one of the unquestionable priorities and real competitive advantages of Russia. “Last year alone, the federal budget provided about 150 billion roubles for space exploration. More than 30 new space complexes and systems will be designed and made by 2015,” the government said.

“Russia accounts for 40 percent of all space launches in the world. One of the main tasks is to increase presence in the international space market which has increased 2.5 times since 2003 to about 200 billion U.S. dollars,” it said.

The implementation of space exploration programmes depends on ground infrastructure, primarily spaceports. Several launching pads – Baikonur and Plesetsk that are operating and Vostochny that is under construction -- make Russia completely independent and allow it to use its space systems to their utmost.

Large-scale construction of the Vostochny spaceport started in 2011.

The creation of the new spaceport Vostochny in the Far East should confirm Russia’s high scientific and technological status, Putin said earlier.

“The implementation of this project should confirm the high scientific and technological status of Russia,” he said.

In his opinion, the new spaceport should become “yet another strongpoint for the development of our Far East”.

Vostochny should become operational in 2015 and start sending manned missions in 2018.

Putin believes that the new spaceport will give Russia independent access to outer space and will basically act as a double for Baikonur, which Russia currently leases from Kazakhstan.

Vostochny will allow Russia to launch different spacecraft, carry out manned missions and new space exploration programmes.

The new spaceport is to ensure the implementation of practically all forward-looking space projects, including manned missions, a new generation of spacecraft and inter-planetary systems.

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