MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) – Construction of a launchpad in northern Russia for the long-delayed Angara rocket will be completed ahead of previous estimates, the country's defense minister has said.
“We have implemented a monitoring system and reduced the construction backlog of the Angara launch facility at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome by three to six months,” Sergei Shoigu said.
He made the statement at a meeting of senior military figures in Moscow on Tuesday attended by President Vladimir Putin to discuss military procurement plans for 2014.
Development of the Angara rocket began in 1995. The maiden launch, originally scheduled for 2008, has slipped several times and is now slated for mid-2014. The first Angara was shipped to Plesetsk, in the northwestern Arkhangelsk Region, in May 2013, the Russian space agency said.
Built by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, Angara has a modular design allowing it to launch payloads in a range of weight classes.
A variant known as Angara-5 will be launched from a new space launch complex known as Vostochny that Russia is constructing in the Far Eastern Amur region, according to a Russian space agency tender announced in July 2012.
Moscow wants the new cosmodrome to reduce its reliance on its main Baikonur facility, which it leases from Kazakhstan.
In August, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin described delays in the construction of Vostochny as “sabotage.”