Russia launches inaugural rocket from new spaceport at second attempt
Russia launched its inaugural rocket from a new cosmodrome on Thursday (April 28), a day after a technical glitch thwarted the much-publicised event in a sign of continued crisis in the nation’s space industry.
An unmanned Soyuz-2.1A rocket carrying three satellites roared off into a clear blue sky from the launch pad at Vostochny cosmodrome in the remote Amur Region near China’s border at 0501 Moscow time (0201 GMT).
The launch was called off less than two minutes before the lift-off on Wednesday, upsetting President Vladimir Putin. He had flown thousands of kilometres to watch what Russian media and officials touted as an historic event.
“I want to congratulate you. There is something to be proud of,” Putin told cosmodrome workers and Roscosmos officials after watching Thursday’s launch at Vostochny, Russian media reported.
“The equipment overreached itself a little bit yesterday,” he said. “In principle, we could have held the launch yesterday, but the equipment overdid its job and stopped the launch. This is a normal thing.”
His remarks contrasted his tough words after Wednesday’s aborted launch, when he criticised Roscosmos and government officials for a large number of technical hitches in the space industry, saying that “there should be an appropriate reaction”. Delays and corruption have blighted work on the new cosmodrome.
NASA has depended on Russia to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station since it retired its space shuttle.