Russia expects first space flight from Vostochny launchpad in April

Russia expects to launch the first space flight from its newly built Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East in April, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said Wednesday.

"We assume that if all the tests are successful, it will be in the first half of April," Igor Komarov told reporters at the facility, according to state news agency TASS.

Komarov said the launch date will be specified after final tests, to begin March 26, according to the news agency.

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

However, since construction began in 2012, the Vostochny has been plagued with numerous delays and allegations of mass embezzlement. Media reports have estimated the total construction costs at 3 billion dollars.

President Vladimir 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, 20/01/2016 - 12:33

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