A close look at Russia’s Vostochny spaceport

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Link here. The article provides an excellent overview of the spaceport, its history, its corruption. It also gives some detailed information how the spaceport is affecting the remote cities nearby. This quote however is telling:

Across the space faculty and university at large, signs are written in Russian and in Chinese. Exchange students from across the river flock here in droves, and students participate in countless scientific and engineering projects with Chinese students. It is a very clear reflection of growing talk among Russian leadership that the country’s future in space does not lay in cooperation with NASA and the West, but with the ascendant Chinese space program.

Indeed, in the halls of Amur State University, the rich history of U.S.-Russia space rivalry and cooperation has already been relegated to the various rooms set aside as little space history museums. Something for students to ponder and reflect upon as they go about planning presentations for their next student scientific congress with their Chinese peers. Caught between the pull of Vostochny and China, these students have discovered hope for a future of opportunity in space.

This makes sense. Russia’s aerospace industry is in trouble. Worse, any future dependence on NASA’s very dubious lunar Gateway project to save it is questionable. China however is closer, and has a thriving and very successful space program. It would make sense for Russia to switch its partnership from the U.S. to China. Whether China is interested remains an open question.



  • Dick Eagleson

    Yes. Russia is standing alongside the road to space with its thumb out. The question is now simply whether anyone at all will offer them a lift and, if so, whom. It seems decreasingly likely that Russia is going to be picked up by anyone at all.

  • Edward

    Dick Eagleson,
    That is an interesting analogy, and one that described the U.S. manned space program a decade ago. Fortunately, Russia offered a lift to the U.S., and I suspect that U.S. launch companies will offer a lift to Russian payloads, should it come to that.

    Russia may favor China, however. Both of those countries are run by communists (at heart) trying to operate in a free market Capitalist world. Sharing this plight may give them a sense of camaraderie.

  • mkent

    Whether China is interested remains an open question.

    That’s going to be an interesting issue in the coming decade. I think it was the head of the Chinese national space agency that said, “We’ve learned about all we can from the Russians. We still have much to learn from the Americans, however.”

    The quoted paragraphs are also interesting in another way. Siberia is vast and largely empty, and China has a lot of people. Siberia hasn’t always been Russian, and if Russia is not careful, it may not be in the future either.

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