First spaceflight from Russia’s Vostochny launchpad delayed to 2016

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday during a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome that the facility’s first space launch should be delayed until spring next year, state media reported.

The cosmodrome, the construction of which has been plagued with financing problems and other setbacks, is to be Russia’s primary launch facility for manned spaceflights.

Russia currently uses a rented facility in the fellow former Soviet nation of Kazakhstan for manned spaceflights. The first launch at Vostochny had been planned for December.

“Strive for the first launch to be in 2016, in the spring. It would be good if you can do it on Cosmonauts Day,” Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, responsible for aerospace and defence issues.

The holiday Cosmonauts Day commemorates the first manned spaceflight by Soviet pilot Yury Gagarin on April 12, 1961.

Putin added that if that date would not be possible, then the work should not be rushed.

“The space industry is not a sector where the work should be rushed. Here the work should be paced and be high quality,” he said.

Vostochny, which has been under construction in far-eastern Russia since 2011, has been beset with delays as workers have complained of being forced to labor unpaid for months.

Several officials involved in the construction project have been arrested as part of an investigation into embezzlement estimated at tens of millions of dollars.

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