The Vostochny Cosmodrome – a key part of Russia’s future space launch ambitions – has undergone a maintenance period ahead of what will its second launch. The new launch site is currently dedicated to Soyuz rockets, but will eventually be the future site for the Angara and super heavy launch vehicles.
Vostochny, whose name means “Eastern”, is built on the site of the former Svobodny missile base. Svobodny, which was the farthest East of Russia’s cold war missile bases, was occupied by UR-100K missiles until its closure under the START-II treaty during the 1990s.
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After its closure as a missile base, Svobodny was used between 1997 and 2006 for a series of five orbital launches via the Start-1 rocket, a derivative of the Topol missile. Svobodny was closed in 2007 by order of Vladimir Putin, as the Russian Space Agency, Roskosmos, considered the little-used site redundant and expensive to maintain.
As the most southerly of Russia’s launch sites, Russia’s primary launch site, Baikonur, has been the most suited for launches to lower-inclination orbits. With the other Russian site, Plesetsk, too far North to provide a practical alternative, all ...