Vostochny update suggests further delays and corruption

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Government marches on! This detailed update on the status of construction at the new Russian spaceport at Vostochny contains this very revealing quote:

During his year-end press-conference on December 17, Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed hope that the space center would be ready in the first quarter of 2016, however he stressed that there was no need to rush with the completion of the project and that the quality (of the construction) was more important. The lag in schedule had been reduced from as long as 1.5 years to between four and six months, Putin said.

However, an unofficial posting on Russian social media by a local witness claimed that there was no chance for the first launch in April, because all additional funds disbursed by the Kremlin for the project had already been spent or stolen, while most expensive hardware needed for the completion, including some to be imported from China, was yet to be delivered. Such reports were backdropped by continuous publications in the Russian press about corruption and waste plaguing the project. Even the official TASS joined in, disclosing that Spetsstroi had spent a part of the federal funds allocated for the spaceport to develop commercial real estate in the nearby city of Khabarovsk. The Russian Deputy Prime-Minister Dmitry Rogozin vowed to sell these residential properties and return at least part of the money into the budget. [emphasis mine]

I fully expect Vostochny to get built, and its first rocket to launch sometime in 2016. I also expect the corruption and waste that permeates Russian society — much of it resulting from decades of centralized government control during the Soviet era — to make the spaceport far less competitive or useful. The Russians have spend a lot of money here building a spaceport designed for 20th century rockets. Changing this infrastructure to handle new rocket designs is likely to be complicated and expensive.

One comment

  • Edward

    The article said: “The Russian Deputy Prime-Minister Dmitry Rogozin vowed to sell these residential properties and return at least part of the money into the budget.”

    The article is not clear who gets to keep the rest of the money.

    Or perhaps the meaning is that the properties will sell for less than the cost of developing them. This would mean that either the money was poorly spent or that someone(s) will become enriched by paying too little for the properties. No matter which is the case, it reads as though there is corruption built into this whole commercial real estate project.

    Maybe something was lost in translation, but I doubt it, judging from the corruption surrounding the rest of the construction.

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