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First launch from Russia's new spaceport at risk

March 16, 2015, 15:40 UTC+3 UGLEGORSK (Amur region)
Russia's deputy prime minister is going to inspect the site after Russia’s Accounts Chamber has exposed the fact of overstatement of the estimated construction cost by $180 million
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© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

UGLEGORSK (Amur region), March 16. /TASS/. The launch site equipment has been delivered to the Voctochny cosmodrome that is currently under construction in the Russian Far East, but the installation cannot be started because the construction work is lagging behind schedule, former head of the federal Center for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure (TsENKI) Alexander Fadeyev said on Monday.

"It is yet possible to carry out the first launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome in 2015. The builders need to exert efforts. The launch equipment has already been delivered to the cosmodrome, everybody is just waiting for the completion of the construction work," he said.

TsENKI representatives have already reported to the government that if the deadline for the transfer of the premises for the equipment installation is not met, the "point of no return" will be passed and the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will not be able to guarantee the first launch from Vostochny in December.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, two weeks after the previous check, has again arrived at the cosmodrome construction site on Monday for personal inspection of the progress of execution of his orders to double the number of workers. It is recognised that a critical moment has come in the construction when the Federal Agency for Special Construction (Spetsstroy) and Roscosmos have the last chance to make up for the lost time and return to the building schedule, avoiding disruption of the launch of the Soyuz-2 rocket planned for December.

Deputy prime minister’s secretariat said that Rogozin plans to inspect all the 12 facilities essential for the launch, as well as to hold a meeting on the Vostochny construction progress. The deputy prime minister said previously that the deputy prosecutor general would come with him to the construction site near the closed Uglegorsk town.

The inspection is coming amid a tense situation: Russia’s Accounts Chamber has exposed the fact of overstatement of the estimated construction cost by $180 million. Several corruption scandals have broke out at the construction site. And the local energy company Amurenergosbyt has threatened Dalstetsstroy with power cuts over unpaid electricity bills. The company has accrued a multi-million electricity debt.

Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has criticised the implementation of the target programme for the development of Russian spaceports regarding the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome. According to him, cash disbursements within this federal target programme have amounted to less than one-third of the planned expenditure - just $130 million from $410 million envisaged by the programme have been used.

The Vostochny (Eastern) spaceport is being built near the Uglegorsk town in the Amur region. Vostochny cosmodrome will comprise two launch platforms, an airfield, facilities for crew members’ pre-launch preparation, oxygen-nitrogen and hydrogen plants, 115 kilometres of roadway and 125 kilometres of rail track.

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