MOSCOW, June 25. /TASS/. The Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East will be able to switch to monthly launches no sooner than 2020, if a larger number of assembly and testing facilities is built there, Academician of Russia’s Tsiolkovsky Academy of Cosmonautics Alexander Zheleznyakov told TASS on Monday.
CEO of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin earlier said in an interview with RT TV Channel that the corporation planned to switch to monthly launches from the Vostochny cosmodrome instead of making two launches a year as was the case now.
"In about two years, this can be implemented. The main thing is to ensure preparations for the launch of payloads because the Vostochny currently has problems with that: there are not so many assembly and testing facilities there. Sites and workplaces are needed for that and the operations and checkout facilities for rockets would also come in handy: if such intensity is achieved [launches once a month], one such facility may not be enough," Zheleznyakov said.
According to the academician, technically, launches can be carried out once a month even from one launch pad.
"If we recall the Soviet time, the most intensive periods of the operation of our launch installations at the Baikonur and the Plesetsk spaceports, the launches there were made even more frequently than once a month. The design of the launch pad at the Vostochny is actually the same as that at the Baikonur and the Plesetsk spaceports. That is why, this is technically possible," the expert said.
However, in the expert’s opinion, the desire of the Roscosmos management to reach such intensity should be backed by the corresponding orders placed by the state or some commercial structures.
"There is no sense to make launches for the sake of launches. If orders are placed for such a number of launches, the Vostochny will be able to ensure that," the expert noted, adding that the Progress Rocket and Space Center (the producer of Soyuz-2 rockets) could manufacture 20 Soyuz space vehicles a year.
If the intensity of launches from the Vostochny cosmodrome is increased, then some launches could quit the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, the expert noted.
But Russia won’t give up the Baikonur spaceport completely and some launches will remain there, he noted.
"Manned Soyuz-MS spacecraft continue blasting off from it. Besides, they will be building a site for the new Soyuz-5 medium-class rocket there," the expert said.
Earlier, then-Roscosmos Head Igor Komarov said the state corporation planned to increase the Vostochny cosmodrome’s utilization rate from 2019 thanks to commercial launches, including under the OneWeb program.
In 2018, a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with 11 satellites was launched from the Vostochny spaceport. The next two launches from the Vostochny cosmodrome are planned for October-November 2018. They are intended to deliver Meteor-M No.2-2 and Kanopus-V No. 5 and No. 6 satellites into orbit.
The Vostochny spaceport is Russia’s first civil cosmodrome. In April 2016, the first successful launch was carried out from the space center with the delivery of three satellites into orbit. The Vostochny will ensure Russia’s full access to outer space and reduce its dependence on the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan.