It seems that Russians and Roscosmos were given a green light, a go ahead to build the Vostochny Cosmodrome, or Eastern Spaceport by 2018. They planned on spending \$1 billion on its construction in 2013 alone, and the project is estimated at a total of \$10 billion. At least according to this article in Huffington Post, while some older articles put it at est. \$13.5 billion.

But the whole project seems to have a lot of opposition, well, questioning its usefulness at least, and even Anatoly Zak has an article on his webpage titled The real rocket to nowhere: The strange case of Soyuz in Vostochny. To sum up his arguments:

  • Vostochny was designed to free Russia from dependency upon the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in a foreign country, and to provide an anchor in the sparsely populated but strategically important Far East;
  • The new Rus-M rocket was to launch commercial and the larger, next generation human spacecraft from the new spaceport;
  • Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin canceled Rus-M after taking over the agency last year because it was redundant to the Angara rocket, which was finally nearing its first flights after nearly two decades in development;
  • Popovkin decided to bring the Soyuz-2 rocket to Vostochny in order to meet a political deadline of flying something by 2015;
  • This plan makes no sense for commercial launches because the Soyuz rocket has less lifting capacity from Vostochny than from the brand new launch complex at Kourou in French Guiana;
  • The Soyuz spacecraft lacks the ability to make high-precision emergency landings in the rugged, heavily-wooded terrain of the Far East, making Vostochny useless for human missions at present;
  • The 2015 deadline is unrealistic, with the first launch from Vostochny unlikely to occur until 2018 at the earliest due to construction delays;
  • The Russian military has no interest in the civilian spaceport, preferring to launch Angara rockets from its newly constructed launch complex at Plesetsk;
  • Just about every other government ministry — including the aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya — have tried to avoid any involvement in Roscosmos’ new spaceport.

This is a lot to process, so I won't be asking about all these points. The sentiment of the story is rather clear though, and most of Anatoly's opinions seem well substantiated that the proposed spaceport, now already in construction, might not be as useful as some of the Russian politicians and Roscosmos are hoping it will be (even though there's many news articles writing that Russians will remain open to European space programmes, and possibly others too with their new spaceport).

However, Anatoly mostly discusses the new spaceport from the perspective of what was known for the proposed 2015 start of operations. This date has by now changed to 2018, and plans for the spaceport's purpose have likely changed substantially by now, too. My question is, for the time being (I might have follow-up questions later on):

What launch vehicle families is Roscosmos hoping to operate from the future Eastern Spaceport starting from 2018? Are there any LV families in development that would find their new home at Vostochny Cosmodrome, perhaps the rumoured revival of the Energia super-heavy booster rocket?

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    $\begingroup$ I think the real answer is, they do not know. Best laid plans of mice and men, problem. They wanted, wanted, wanted, but what shall be? Who knows at this point? $\endgroup$ – geoffc Nov 24 '13 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc Well the question is what they hope to do with it, not what it will then end up being in reality. They must have some plans, you don't spend upwards of \$10 billion without having a fairly good idea what you expect from your investment. ;) $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Nov 24 '13 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ Then you answered it already by listing off the changing and variant desires. The only question is, at this moment, what is the plan. Then 2 days later, at this moment what is the plan. It is fluid, and no one really knows what shall be. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Nov 24 '13 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ @geoffc My question is about plans for the 2018 deadline. I expect those have somewhat changed in comparison to the plans that expected the new spaceport operational in 2015, which Anatoly Zak mostly discusses. But I agree, this will very likely be changing. So I'll accept an answer that presents plans as they're currently made public that take 2018 as the date when it is supposed to be operational, and not 2015, and we'll see later on if follow-up questions will be required, as stated in the question. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Nov 24 '13 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, spending is an end in itself for government, when you spend other peoples money partly into you own pocket. But one would think that Putin would be more careful with his space program, since it is one of few leading edges he has on other great powers. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Nov 8 '15 at 14:56

According to Anatloy Zak's website, with the cancellation of Rus-M it will be the Angara family, with first to fly in March 2014, which is of course, to be taken with a grain of salt. This is after all, rocket science.

From: Angara at Vostochny

On Oct. 23, 2013, Roskosmos announced a tender for the development of the launch complex 371SK32 for the Angara rocket in Vostochny. The agency allocated 813 million rubles for the work on the project code-named SK-Vostok-A (which stood for Launch Complex-Vostochny-Angara) until Nov. 25, 2014. This phase of the project was characterized as Opytno-Konstruktorskie Raboty, OKR, which can be translated as research and development work. In the Russian industrial terminology it usually refers to a second phase of development following the preliminary design.

As it was expected, Roskosmos essentially ordered to replicate in Vostochny the launch facility for the Angara-A5 that had been previously developed for Russia's northern launch site in Plesetsk. The agency's paperwork called for a two-pad launch facility to be developed into two phases. The first pad would be built to support three-stage Angara-A5 rockets with DM and KVTK upper stages. The pad would have to be modifiable for a three-stage Angara-A5 rocket carrying manned PTK NP spacecraft, the tender documentation said. The second pad could accommodate both manned and unmanned versions of the rocket.

At the time, Russian space officials still promised the first manned launch from Vostochny in 2018.

  • $\begingroup$ But Angara without crew? Soyuz T-10a did a launch abort from the launch pad and the crew landed only 4 km away. That much forest can be cleared. And is it really so bad to land in a forest? People seem to fall out of aircrafts and survive thanks to branches in trees absorbing the pain (if one can believe it). $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Nov 8 '15 at 15:04

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