Source: XINHUA | 2012-4-12 | ONLINE EDITION
MOSCOW, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Russia will give priority to modernizing its space industry to protect its independence in space exploration, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Russia would outline a long-term strategy of cosmodrome building, including modernizing the northern Plesetsk and Kazakhstan-located Baikonur cosmodromes, Putin told a conference in Moscow's Planetarium.
"Only the existence of several cosmodromes guarantees Russia's full independence in space activities and enables us to use space technology efficiently," he said.
A new cosmodrome is being built at Vostochny in Amur region as the main launch center for commercial and international flights. It will eventually include two launch pads, a training center and oxygen and hydrogen generation plants.
"Building Vostochny cosmodrome will boost development of the entire Far East region and attract highly skilled human resources there," Putin said.
The government allocated 30 billion rubles (1 billion U.S. dollars) for the Vostochny construction out of 150 billion rubles (5 billion dollars) for the entire space sector in 2012, Putin said.
He also said the first space launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome should be held in 2015 and the first manned flight in 2018.
Meanwhile, he hailed Russia's achievements in the space industry, saying it was the "important resource of the national development."
The prime minister also announced government awards for five Russian cosmonauts on Thursday, which is Cosmonautics Day and celebrates the first manned space flight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.