MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. Russia plans to hold two launches from its newest Vostochny space center in the Far East this December, the head of the Roscosmos space corporation told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily.
"Everything goes according to the schedule. We plan Souyz-2 launches in December under the state program to orbit the Canopus-V and the Meteor-M remote sensing satellites," Igor Komarov said in an interview to be published on the Cosmonautics Day, marked on April 12.
Chief engineers of the Vostochny project earlier announced that the space facility was ready for two launches that may take place in late 2017, but gave no further details.
The state corporation expects that up to ten launches, including commercial ones, will be held annually at Vostochny, which is still under construction.
Commercial launches to begin in 2018
First commercial launces from Russia’s new Vostochny space center in the Far Eastern Amur Region are to begin in 2018, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation said. The space center's commercial launch plan includes those for the OneWeb project aimed at creating a constellation of microsatellites to blanket the entire earth surface for broadband internet access all over the world.
"Two or three commercial launches are scheduled for 2018, six or seven - for 2019," the Roscosmos chief said.
In 2015, Russia signed a contract with satellite telecom startup OneWeb to launch a total of 21 Soyuz carrier rockets with OneWeb satellites between 2017 and 2019. OneWeb plans its initial fleet size to be at 882 satellites, with around 2,000 more to be added during the second stage of the project. According to media reports, Russian rockets may be used for the bulk of the launches.
The Vostochny space center is intended to reduce Russia’s dependence on the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur launch site. Its geographical location at 51 degrees north means that rockets will be able to carry almost the same amount of payload to orbit as they can when launched from Baikonur, at 46 degrees north.
The Vostochny space center in the Amur region is intended to reduce Russia’s dependence on the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur launch site. Its geographical location at 51 degrees north means that rockets will be able to carry almost the same amount of payload to orbit as they can when launched from Baikonur, at 46 degrees north.
Vostochny’s construction began in 2012. The infrastructure for the first unmanned Angara carrier rocket launch is due to be ready by 2021, and for the first manned Angara mission by 2023. The only launch from the space center so far took place in April 2016, when a Soyuz-2.1a rocket put three spacecraft into orbit.