Putin waits as Russia's new space centre delays first flight

Russian space officials on Wednesday postponed by a day the first space flight from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome, whose construction was plagued with delays and allegations of mass embezzlement.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos blamed the postponement on a glitch in the flight control system, according to a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled out to the far-eastern city of Blagoveshchensk to watch the launch, which was delayed by 24 hours, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The launch, which is supposed to put three satellites into orbit, is now expected to take place around 0300 GMT Thursday, though officials are still determining whether that is feasible, state media reported.

Putin has decided to wait at the cosmodrome for further clarity on when the actual launch will take place, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The Vostochny, whose name translates as "Eastern," is to serve as Russia's principal launch site.

The facility should also reduce the national space industry's dependence on Kazakhstan's Soviet-built Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia leases for a reported 115 million dollars a year.

The Vostochny's construction was beset with numerous delays since its construction began in 2012. Media reports have estimated the total construction cost at 3 billion dollars.

Putin in 2014 demanded that the cosmodrome be ready for its first launch in late 2015, but then in October 2015 he visited the facility and officially postponed the launch to sometime early this year.

Last update: Wed, 27/04/2016 - 12:29
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