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Vladimir Putin visited Vostochny Space Launch Centre

April 12, 2013, Amur Region

The President saw how work is progressing on building the launch and technical sections of the Soyuz-2 booster rocket, and took part in a video linkup with the International Space Station.

The Vostochny Space Launch Centre will conduct future manned space missions and launch automated spacecraft of various purposes for state, international, and commercial programmes. The launch centre’s construction will make it possible to carry out large-scale space projects that will advance and deepen exploration and study of outer space.

The construction work covers an area of more than 1,000 square kilometres. Ten technical and support sites will be completed by 2015. The rocket launch is planned for the end of 2015, and the first manned launch will take place in 2018.

During a video linkup with the International Space Station, the President congratulated cosmonauts on their professional holiday, Cosmonautics Day.

Currently working on board the ISS are Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov, Roman Romanenko, and Alexander Misurkin, US astronauts Christopher Cassidy and Thomas Marshburn, and space station commander, Canadian Chris Hadfield.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,

Cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov: Good afternoon.

Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko: Hello.

Vladimir Putin: Can you hear me? I want to congratulate you on Cosmonautics Day.

Pavel Vinogradov: Thank you very much on behalf of our international team. It is really nice to be congratulated by the President in person.

Vladimir Putin: This isn’t just any congratulations, but comes from the construction site of what will be Russia’s biggest and most advanced space launch centre, the Vostochny cosmodrome. 

Pavel Vinogradov: Then it’s doubly a pleasure.

Vladimir Putin: It is my big hope that not only our Russian specialists will use this new site, but so will our colleagues from the United States, Europe, and other countries. We plan to launch manned flights from here, and also work on flights deeper into space.

This is an excellent site. We took a long time about selecting it. Now the work is fully underway. The first launches are scheduled for 2015, and the first manned flights will take place in 2018. The next stage, I hope, will be to launch super-heavy rockets by 2020. We initially planned for rockets that could carry up to 55 tons, but the specialists now think we need to aim for a higher capacity. We will be discussing all of this today at a meeting on developing space and rocket technology and cosmonautics here in Blagoveshchensk.

I know the entire crew has a lot of work to do. I wish you success and once again congratulate you on today’s holiday.

Pavel Vinogradov: On behalf of the whole crew, thank you, Mr President.

Yes, it turns out that we are celebrating our holiday at work. We are preparing for a large amount of work outside, for the scientific programme’s purposes, and our American colleagues are also very busy with work. 

ISS Crew Commander Chris Hadfield: I also want to congratulate everyone on today’s holiday. My name is Chris Hadfield, I’m from Canada, and I’m currently the station’s commander.

Ten years ago, I visited the place in Saratov where Gagarin landed, and a few months ago, I visited the place where he began his space flight, so we know Gagarin well.

The International Space Station is a very good station now. We have very good cosmonauts here, Pavel Vinogradov, Roman Romanenko, and Alexander Misurkin. They are excellent cosmonauts from Russia. I feel proud to be this crew’s commander.

Vladimir Putin: I am very pleased to see that we have made space exploration an area in which we all work together, forget about the complexities of international relations, and develop our ties in one of the most promising high-tech areas, putting problems aside and thinking about the future of our countries and humanity as a whole.

Russia, as you know, long since declared April 12 a holiday to commemorate Yury Gagarin’s space flight. He was the first human being to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and enter outer space. This was not the beginning but the continuation of what we now call cosmonautics. One of the first people in Russia, and indeed in the world, to work in this field was [Konstantin] Tsiolkovsky. There is not a single town in Russia named in his honour. They will be building a new town here, not just for the space launch centre – it will be a scientific centre and whole new town. We will discuss this with the local residents, but I think it would be appropriate to name this town of the future in honour of Tsiolkovsky.

I wish you success and hope for your support. I hope you will get the chance to use the new site I spoke about just now.

Roman Romanenko: Thank you very much, Mr President.

We in turn would like to congratulate on this holiday the huge number of people working in the space and rocket sector in Russia and around the world, because it is thanks to their work that we have this marvellous opportunity to speak with you from up here in orbit.

We hope very much for your support in carrying out the projects not just to build the new space launch centre and new launch vehicles, but also to develop a new piloted spacecraft. Our moon vehicle is still on the Moon, it has grown lonely there. We’d very much like to go and see it, take a look at how it’s getting on.

Vladimir Putin: This new space launch centre will make that possible given that we plan to launch heavy and super-heavy launch vehicles from here. This will be one of the big focuses of the space launch centre’s future work. Work will focus on deep space flight, and exploring the Moon, Mars, and other space bodies. This site will be the centre for this work.

We will have not only launch facilities here but also a research centre. I think that we should also move some of the assembly work here, given that we are talking about large cargoes. In any case, I hope that we will have everything here for developing a large segment of Russia’s cosmonautics sector in this part of the country.

Once more, I wish you success. Happy holiday and all the best!

April 12, 2013, Amur Region