When the Soviet Union broke apart, one thing the Russian space program lost was, well, space. Specifically, with the independence of Kazakhstan, Russia lost its Baikonur Cosmodrome. Through leasing agreements and generally friendly relations, Russia’s been able to keep launching rockets from their old base, but the nation has long dreamed of a space launch facility in its own territory. After years of work, it finally has one in the works at Vostochny Cosmodrome.
Russian engineers began working on a next-generation spacecraft, called PTK NP, that could make high-precision, rocket-powered landings into pre-determined spots along the flight path. However, the new capsule is too heavy to be carried by the Soyuz launcher, so a new rocket, Angara, is being modified for the job. The launch pad for Angara won’t be built at Vostochny until 2018, during the cosmodrome’s second phase of construction. If everything goes according to a very optimistic (or, according to some, highly unrealistic) schedule, Angara would lift off from the new cosmodrome for the first time in 2018.
Last week, Russian-owned media company RT provided a glimpse at the facility to the world, as filmed by drone. Watch below:
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