MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. The first launch from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Far Eastern Amur region will be carried out in late April, head of the Roscosmos State Space Corporation Igor Komarov told reporters on Wednesday.
"[The first launch] will be carried out in the last 10 days of April," he said, adding that the results of the "dry rollout" of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket that took place last week are currently being analyzed.
The so-called "dry rollout" is a set of checks and tests on the spaceport’s launch pad when the launch vehicle is not fueled. These works are carried out to check the launch methods and systems.
According to previous reports, the first launch from the Vostochny spaceport may be carried out on April 28-29, and the launch date will be finally determined at a meeting of the state commission on April 4.
The new cosmodrome is expected to reach its full capacity in 2018, when it will carry out at least 5 launches, Komarov told journalists.
"We will be reaching full capacity in 2018… In 2018, we hope to reach at least 5 launches. In the future - 8-19 launches a day not only under the federal space program, but commercial launches as well," he said.
The construction of the Vostochny space launch center in the Amur region began in 2012. The total area of the cosmodrome is 700 square km. It is destined to become the first national facility for civilian space launches, ensuring Russia’s full-scale access to space and reducing the dependence of the Russian space industry on the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. The first liftoff from Vostochny was initially scheduled for late December last year but was rescheduled for 2016. Now it is tentatively planned for late April. The Mikhailo Lomonosov and Aist-2D satellites, as well as the nanosatellite SamSat-218 will be the first to be launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome with the help of Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket to transmit scientific experimental data to the Earth.
Last October, Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the construction site of the Vostochny cosmodrome and criticized delays in the schedule of works and weak control over 130 construction firms engaged in the project.
Plans are afoot to create a heavy-class space and rocket center for the launches of unmanned space vehicles and as part of a manned flight program. The cosmodrome is expected to be fully commissioned in 2020.