The Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia's new spaceport located in the far east, will finally launch rockets beginning Wednesday. Construction began in 2011 with an initial launch schedule set for the end of 2015. Setbacks and allegations of corrutption have plagued the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which has an estimated budget of $4.5 billion to $6 billion. A Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying three satellites will christen the new spaceport, Agence France-Presse reported.
Due to its remote location, miles of roads and railways needed to be built to provide access to the Vostochny Cosmodrome. A town capable of housing 25,000 individuals, 71 miles of roads and another 77 miles of railways was part of the construction expense of the new spaceport. The Soyuz rocket was installed April 23, ahead of the scheduled Wednesday launch, the Moscow Times reported.
Construction for the entire Vostochny Comsmodrome — with a planned 400 facilities to support satellite launches, manned launches aboard the Soyuz spacecraft and resupply mission to the International Space Station — is expected to be completed in 2018. The spaceport will become the primary launch center, but a decision has to be made on the Baikonur Comsmodrome in Kazakhstan that Russia leases for $115 million under a contract through 2050.
Controversy has surrounded the development of Russia's spaceport. Corruption allegations (ranging from approximately $2 million being embezzled to only $500 million of $3 billion in advancement payments being billed to the Vostochny Cosmodrome) have led to 31 complaints being filed with the state agency overseeing its construction. Labor violations and a worker's strike also affected progress in the completion of the spaceport. The string of setbacks led to Russian President Vladimir Putin to oversee its development.
The current economic crisis has also put into question the need of a multi-billion dollar spaceport when there are three launchpads already being used for Soyuz launches of manned spacecraft and satellites. There are only two scheduled launches for Vostochny, with the second taking place in 2017.