Vostochny Cosmodrome, located in the eastern part of Russia, was supposed to be Russia's aerospace crown jewel, but is now a sore spot for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Friday harshly criticized the multibillion-dollar spaceport, following news that the first launches would be delayed from the end of 2015 until April 2016, according to the state-owned TASS news agency.
Launch facilities have not been connected to electrical power, heating supply, water supply, wastewater disposal or ventilation systems. Rogozin noted low levels of activity and the slow speed of operations as two major concerns regarding the spaceport's construction. "I have the impression that you have relaxed, colleagues, to my mind. I want to find out what is happening there," Rogozin said in a teleconference.
Only $500 million has been billed as part of the Vostochny construction despite financing of $3 billion. "We need to make a thorough check of how these advance payments have been spent and make sure that workers’ wages are not paid late," Putin said in comments made earlier this week, according to Spaceflight Now.
A quick search for the Vostochny Cosmodrome reveals months of construction woes. The new spaceport is located in the Russian far east near the border with China. Construction began in 2011, but allegations of corruption, a workers strike and the discovery of several labor violations by the Russian Prosecutor General led to Putin personally overseeing the spaceport's construction, CNN reported. Russian officials were optimistic the first launches from the new spaceport would take place at the end of 2015.
The Vostochny spaceport is a massive complex consisting of a planned 400 facilities, Tass reported. The spaceport will be used for satellite launches, resupply missions to the International Space Station and manned launches. Vostochny spaceport will be used to reduce reliance on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia leases from Kazakhstan. The spaceport is currently used for manned Russian Soyuz -- carrying cosmonauts, NASA astronauts and international astronauts -- and unmanned launches.
Two science satellites, Lomonosov and Aist, will be the first the first launched from the new spaceport in 2016. Putin and Rogozin planned for a potential April 12 date to celebrate Cosmonautics Day. On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed the first manned spaceflight. Vostochny spaceport is expected to be completed in 2020.