Vostochny cosmodrome, most impressive investment of Russian space industry in recent years, at last became ready for the first launch. Unfortunately it will be first and last launch before over one year period of suspending launches from Vostochny.
It seems that Vostochny Cosmodrome will be fully operational not in 2016 but in 2017 or even 2018. First launch from this most modern Russian Cosmodrome will be performed on April 25th 2016. It will be Soyuz-2.1A with research satellite MVL-300 “Mikhail Lomonosov”. Assembling of the rocket was started in Vostochny on 20 January 2016 and first dry roll-out of the rocket was performed on March 21 2016. There was no problem during roll out and everything gone as it was planned – according to Igor Komarov, chief of Roscosmos:
“It’s a very important moment for us today. Comprehensive tests of the launch complex, a ‘dry rollout’ of the Soyuz-2.1a space rocket have begun. The first day passed normally. The staff of all enterprises worked fine”
Rocket passed through all further tests on launch pad successfully. Ground service tested retracting fueling masts, performed simulated filling internal tanks of the rocket with oxygen and kerosene and tested various launch procedures. On March 25, 2016, rocket was rolled into building where final pre-launch tests will be performed and attaching payload. On 25th April 2016, Soyuz-2.1A will lift three satellites. Main payload will be MVL-300 “Mikhail Lomonosov” observation satellite was designed to measure gamma-bursts in space and in upper atmosphere of Earth with utilization of Tracking Ultraviolet Set Up detector (TUS). Additional payload will be two satellites: SamSat-218 which is 3U Cubesat built on Samara State Aerospace University (SSAU) to demonstrate possibility of attitude stabilizing only with usage of aerodynamic forces; second is Aist-2D – built under cooperation between Samara State Aerospace University and SRC Progress. Satellite will test ground-penetrating UHF radar and new type of infrared sensors. Onboard equipment will be utilized for Earth imaginary and detecting fires.
After launch planned on 25th April 2016 Vostochny will remain closed until 2017 or even 2018. According to Interfax news agency, Andrei Mazurin the head of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure department, announced:
“I hope we will open Cosmodrome in April with the first launch. In 2017 no further launches are planned. For 2018 not many launches are planned…”
It means that Vostochny will still remain in status “under construction” without clear statement when it will be commissioned. Russian authorities, after rather not positive experience with only contractor in Vostochny construction, Spetsstroy Company, are determined to open contest for new contractor for second phase of Vostochny (in years 2016-2025). It was officially confirmed by Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. It seems that all facilities designed to be used with Angara rocket will be built by other company and only after the outcome of the official competition. It will likely cause additional delays in final date of starting fully operational Vostochny Cosmodrome, which was meant to be a definitive solution to the problem of leased from Kazakhstan Baikonur Cosmodrome.
On picture above – Vostochny Cosmodrome under construction.