Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
The competition heats up? Russian sources today suggested that the first unmanned launch from Vostochny will occur on April 25, 2016 (subject to testing) while the first manned flight will occur in 2023
The second story is more significant, as it demonstrates the slow, laborious pace of this government operation. Based on the pace being set by the private companies in the U.S., by 2023 they will be flying regular manned missions from several privately run launch sites, all built quickly with as little cost as possible, with some flights possibly going beyond Earth orbit. Vostochny is expected to cost about $2.9 billion and take more than a decade to complete. The first manned missions will go to ISS only, with the first lunar manned mission not expected until after 2025 (this link also gives some details about the Russian government’s ongoing struggle to establish a 10 year plan for its space program amid continuing and changing budget crises).
The differences here are striking. While the Russian government builds an expensive spaceport built on old technology, Americans will be launching innovative and low-cost rockets that no one has ever seen before. Who do you want to hitch your ride to?