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Videoconference on construction of Vostochny Space Launch Centre

May 22, 2014

Vladimir Putin held a videoconference on the construction of the Vostochny Space Launch Centre.

The Vostochny Space Launch Centre is designed for use in prospective programmes of piloted space flights and for launching automatic spacecraft of various purposes in line with state, international and commercial programmes. The space launch centre will become a venue for implementing large-scale space projects dealing with the in-depth study and exploration of outer space.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Can you hear me all right?

Head of The Federal Space Agency Oleg Ostapenko: Good afternoon. We can hear you well.

Vladimir Putin: The construction of the Vostochny Space Launch Centre is an extremely important project not only for East Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation, but for the nation as a whole, as we all understand. It is projects like this one, the construction of a new space launch centre in the Far East of Russia – the most convenient spot on this country’s territory for launching space craft – that should make a qualitative change in the face of East Siberia and the Russian Far East.

We agreed that this would be a new high technology research and production cluster in the east of the Russian Federation. We intend to train experts in this field on the spot, at the Far Eastern Federal University. However, to make this possible we need to complete the construction on time and with proper quality, complete the creation of this colossal project, a facility of truly national significance.

Let us see today what is being done and what stage the work is at. When I last visited you, you know we spoke of certain problems with meeting the deadlines – some work was not getting done on time.

Let us see what is going on now, and let us begin with Mr Ostapenko – could we hear your assessment, please.

Oleg Ostapenko: Thank you, Mr President.

As you may know, the key task in the construction of the Vostochny Space Launch Centre is to launch a Soyuz booster rocket in 2015. Our main job now is to make sure we finish the construction of all the facilities to make them ready for the assembly of equipment. By the way, about 80 percent of the equipment has been produced to date, and some 20 percent of it is already here at the Vostochny launch site.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that work on some of the facilities has fallen behind schedule. However, I would like to note that starting in August Spetsstroy experts managed to almost double their work rate, and in some cases they are completely on schedule. Therefore, the overall outlook is very good.

Mr President, we would like to show you the launch pad. You were here only a year ago. Back then, we only had the bottom foundation. Enormous work has been carried out. We expect to shortly reach zero ground and start the assembly of equipment. The experts are ready and the equipment is here.

To speed up this work we have developed a whole system that makes it possible to combine construction and equipment assembly. Here we expect to make a significant breakthrough in terms of schedule, and the work is already underway. Currently here on the launch pad the equipment has already been assembled.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that at first we had some – not too many – significant problems in coordinating our efforts, purely organisational issues. This is where we were losing time. We have now set up a coordinating centre and we expect that this will reduce organisational issues to a minimum.

One more thing regarding organisation. It is very important now – we have discussed this with Mr Volosov [Director of Spetsstroy of Russia] as well, and he showed understanding for our position – there is a need to increase the number of people working at the Vostochny Space Launch Centre to a maximum. This is possible since we have a pool of back-up personnel. I believe Mr Volosov will report to you in greater detail.

I would also like to speak about personnel training. We have worked with the nation’s universities and found that young people are eager to work here on construction teams. We have applications from 14 regions to work here. We are inviting them and we will soon have almost 600 students working on the site. They will arrive and begin sometime in late June. I believe this is very important, especially because we will have people here who are motivated to organise both construction work and the operation of the space industry as a whole. I believe that once we deal with this set of issues we will be able to say with a certain degree of confidence that we will provide for the launch of the Soyuz-2 booster rocket from the Vostochny launch pad in 2015.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Mr Volosov, please.

Director of the Federal Agency For Special Construction (Spetsstroy of Russia) ALEXANDER VOLOSOV: Mr President,

After your visit, the deadlines have been moved forward. Construction work on 500 facilities on this site has picked up speed. We are increasing the number of personnel and equipment. Today there are 6,720 people working here and 88 units of equipment. The equipment is all modern. We are on schedule on practically all the facilities, with the exception of two, which are slightly lagging behind, but our current work pace will make it possible to complete the work on schedule.

We have devised a new schedule with Mr Ostapenko. We moved the commissioning deadline from December to July. Mr President, I would like to confirm that Spetsstroy of Russia will complete the job on schedule.

Vladimir Putin: I did not understand which deadlines you have moved.

Alexander Volosov: Under the old contract, the work was supposed to be completed by December. Mr Ostapenko studied this in detail and it became clear that it should all be finished in July, so we have time to prepare for the rocket launch.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Volosov, do not relax. I will have a good look now on camera, and will also study all the documents to see how work is proceeding, and I will definitely come visit at the end of summer or beginning of autumn to check on your progress. Therefore, I would like you to take the tasks facing your company very seriously.

We have a launch schedule for the Vostochny Space Launch Centre beginning with 2015 and later, through to the launch of piloted craft in later years. This is not so far away. This is very close. We cannot afford to affect the schedule of space launches by letting the construction schedule slip. I would like to note that the deadlines have been shifted and I hope you will catch up. However, not to the detriment of quality, Mr Volosov.

 Alexander Volosov: We will do everything on schedule.

Vladimir Putin: Good. We shall see. Thank you.

May 22, 2014