Moscow, Apr 12 (EFE).- President Vladimir Putin marked Russia's annual Space Exploration Day on Friday with a visit to the remote site in eastern Siberia where the country's new spaceport is under construction.
"These are not just any greetings, these are greetings from the construction site of our future," Putin told the crew of the International Space Station by video link from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.
The ISS is currently staffed by Russia's Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and Roman Romanenko, U.S. astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn and Canadian Chris Hadfield.
Moscow plans for Vostochny to take over some of the duties of the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in what is now independent Kazakhstan.
Once NASA moth-balled its space shuttles, Baikonur became the sole launch site for astronauts headed to the ISS.
The first launch from Vostochny is scheduled for 2015 and manned launches will begin in 2018, the Russian president said.
"I very much hope that it will be used not only by our specialists, but by our colleagues from the United States, Europe and other countries," he said. "Space is a sphere of activity that allows us to forget about all the difficulties of international relations."
Russia will continue to use the Baikonur facility even after Vostochny is fully operational, Putin said.