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Vladimir Putin announces $1 billion for new Russian cosmodrome

Russia will spend $1 billion this year alone to build a new space launch pad and cosmodrome, part of a $10 billion strategy of cosmodrome building.

Vladimir Putin cosmonauts 2012 4 13Enlarge
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks on through 3D glasses during his visit to Moscow's Planetarium, on April 12, 2012. (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia will spend $1 billion this year alone to build a new space launch pad and cosmodrome, part of a long-term space program strategy that the Associated Press cites reports will cost $10 billion. 

Putin, the President-Elect, made the announcement as Russia celebrated Aviation and Cosmonautics Day on Thursday, the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin making the first manned space flight in 1961.

At an official ceremony in Moscow’s planetarium, Putin awarded a team of Russian cosmonauts — Alexei Leonov, Valery Bykov, Boris Volynov, Viktor Gorbatko and Valentina Tereshkova —  for their contribution to Russian manned space flights, the Voice of Russia reported.

He said the cosmodrome being built at Vostochny in Amur region should ease the Russian space program's reliance on ex-Soviet neighbor Kazakhstan.

"Only the existence of several cosmodromes guarantees Russia's full independence in space activities and enables us to use space technology efficiently," he said, according to Xinhua.

Vostochny would be the main launch center for commercial and international flights, while Russia would also modernize the northern Plesetsk and Kazakhstan-located Baikonur cosmodromes, he reportedly said.

He also said the first space launch from Vostochny was planned for 2015 and the first manned flight in 2018.

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"Building Vostochny cosmodrome will boost development of the entire Far East region and attract highly skilled human resources there," Putin said.

The government had allocated 30 billion rubles ($1 billion) for the Vostochny project out of $5 billion for the entire space sector in 2012.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120412/vladimir-putin-space-cosmonauts-russia