Putin extols new launchpad's first spaceflight, commends prior delay

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised officials at the new Vostochny Cosmodrome for conducting its first space flight on Thursday and said the previous day's postponement was well warranted.

"Computers played it safe and aborted yesterday's flight to go through their checklists once more. There is no harm done. On the contrary, everything has been done with quality in mind, in the best possible manner," Putin told officials at the cosmodrome.

"The proof is in the pudding. You need a successful first launch to prove that the space centre is ready for work. You have done it. Congratulations," Putin said, according to a transcript on the Kremlin's website.

The spaceflight took off at 5:01 am Moscow time (0201 GMT), following a last-minute delay the previous day.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos blamed the postponement on a glitch in the flight control system, according to a statement on the agency's website.

The launch successfully put three satellites into interim orbit, a Roscosmos spokesman said in comments carried by state media.

Vostochny, whose name translates as "Eastern," is to serve as Russia's principal launch site.

The facility should reduce the national space industry's dependence on Kazakhstan's Soviet-built Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia leases for a reported 115 million dollars a year.

Vostochny's construction, which began in 2012, has been beset with numerous delays and allegations of mass embezzlement. Media reports have estimated the total building cost at 3 billion dollars.

"The construction teams still have much to do yet. The first stage has been completed, but there are more stages ahead," Putin said Thursday.

"We plan to build new infrastructure for heavy carrier rockets. We are also considering building infrastructure for super-heavy rockets and manned missions here. I am confident that together we will accomplish this task."

Last update: Thu, 28/04/2016 - 14:02

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