In the Svobodnensky District of the Amur Region, the construction of one of the most important objects of the space industry, the Vostochny cosmodrome, continues. The week ended the stage of summing up the power lines spaceport under construction. The connection goes through the modernized substation “Ledyanaya”, which provides with electric energy not only the construction site itself, but also numerous infrastructure facilities that are directly connected with the construction of Vostochny. Due to the fact that the capacity of the mentioned substation can be sufficient only for the construction stage of the cosmodrome, in the future it is planned to use the more powerful (productive) substation Amurskaya for the operation of the Vostochny with its extensive complex consisting of two launch sites, an airfield, automobile and railway tracks and two special plants.
If the work is carried out without significant failures, then by the autumn of 2014, at the launch site, they will begin to install special equipment. In other words, the “skeleton” of the cosmodrome should be ready in about six months, after which the cosmodrome will, in 13-14 months, be brought to mind (well, or to perfection) by installing hardware systems ensuring the effectiveness of space launches. Around December 2015, the first space launch from one of the Vostochny sites was scheduled.
However, according to estimates of government officials in charge of the construction of the cosmodrome in the Amur Region (supervisor activities with control functions are conducted by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin), there are not enough technical specialists and workers employed at the Vostochny facilities to implement the plans. Dmitry Rogozin says that if today no more than 5300 people are employed in the project, then to accomplish the tasks set in a specified period of time it will take about 15000 builders, engineers and other qualified specialists.
It should be noted that the further progress is made in the construction of a spaceport in the Far East of Russia, the less voices are heard by skeptics about why, they say, Russia needs all this. If at the initial stage the design of a number of specialists, many of whom were and are directly related to the space programs of different years, wondered about the feasibility of building the Vostochny in connection with the presence of Baikonur, today the opinion of these people has changed significantly. I do not want to look for some kind of artificial parallels and even indirectly cast a shadow on Kazakhstani friends, but, having burned myself with milk, begins, as they say, to pragmatically blow on the water.
Russia leases Baikonur from Kazakhstan. This is certainly great. The Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan are in the Customs Union, they constantly strengthen cooperation, build close relations with Belarus within the framework of the future Eurasian Economic Union. However, some tectonic processes in the political life of other neighboring states make it possible to reflect on the fact that, with any narrowness of partnership, their own shirt is still closer to the body. No need here to look for any pitfalls in relations with Astana, you just need to understand that such a state like Russia should have its own high-quality and modern platform for implementing the most ambitious space projects. And this site is designated - Vostochny Cosmodrome. The choice, as is known, fell on this territory due to the fact that it is not densely populated, and also due to the fact that the local latitudes will allow us to bring manned and unmanned vehicles into space with an economic advantage (compared with even more northern "Plesetsk").
What will happen to Baikonur if Russia is really implementing its own project in the Far East in the near future? There are two opinions on this score, and the most interesting is that they are diametrically opposed.
First opinion: the Baikonur cosmodrome will, so to say, gradually fade away, since today it requires serious modernization, which the Kazakh side wishes to conduct in the “50 / 50” mode with Russian colleagues. The Russian colleagues say that at this stage they pay rent for the operation of the Baikonur site, and Astana should carry out modernization measures directly. If neither Russia, nor Kazakhstan, nor any other country that has any space ambitions invest in Baikonur, then the future of this famous cosmodrome can be really foggy.
Opinion two: the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome, on the contrary, can be an impetus for the development of Baikonur and investment in it within quite healthy competition. Will Russia need two practically equivalent cosmodromes (talking about Vostochny and Baikonur)? Now it is impossible to give an unequivocal answer to this question, but if Russia really begins to embody ambitious space programs into reality, then there will definitely be a place for Baikonur among them. As they say, one quality platform is good, but two is better. In addition, Baikonur may well be interested in a third party. And if this interest does not contradict the interests of Kazakhstan, then “Baikonur” may eventually turn into a real international project, in the plus from the realization of which will be the economy of Kazakhstan including.
The main thing is that the construction of Vostochny should not become an object of a kind of bargaining between Moscow and Astana. Healthy competition is a great option, groundless confrontation and an attempt to bargain for something from each other is not a better future for states that are in close and constructive cooperation today.
"East" instead of "Baikonur"?
- Alexei Volodin
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