The more countries get involved in space exploration, the better! Russia was there at the beginning when they launched the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has told astronauts on the International Space Station that the first manned spaceflight launch from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport will take place sometime in 2018.
According to Reuters, the Vostochny Cosmodrome will help the Russians get back to being a pioneer in space exploration, with planned missions to the moon and deep space. The spaceport will be available to Russia’s International Space Station partner nations in Europe and North America, but Putin hopes that the Cosmodrome will help Russia catch up to the other major space exploration players. Putin says:
We are lagging behind the world in some areas. We’ve developed a noticeable gap from the leading space powers in the technologies of so-called deep space exploration… It’s clear that in the 21st century Russia must preserve its status as a leading space power.
Russia started construction on the Vostochny Cosmodrome in 2011, as a new spaceport to rival the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which many countries currently use for launches to the International Space Station. The responsibility for the upkeep of the ISS fell to the Russians after NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011.
The new spaceport is located near the Pacific Ocean and near Amur Oblast, in the Russian far east. The first scheduled launch at the new site will be sometime in 2015. Russia will continue to use the Baikonur Cosmodrome until its lease for the facility expires in 2050. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also committed to spending more than $50 billion on space travel and exploration through the year 2020.