12-year-old Baikonur fligth pad to be replaced

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Moscow, Jan 25 (UNI) Russia is all set to build a new space center for launching booster rockets, thereby replacing the 12-year-old Baiknour flight pad.

In a recent announcement, Russian first deputy Prime Minsiter Sergei Ivanov said it will build a new space centre near Uglegorsk, with the launch of booster rockets expected by 2016 and manned flights by 2018.

Mr Ivanov said the new Vostochny space center will be built on the former site of the Svobodny space center. Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, will begin work on the project this year, ITAR-TASS reported.

The Uglegorsk site in the Amur region of eastern Russia was chosen over Vanino in Khabarovsk Territory and the new launch facility will replace the country's main flight pad -- Baikonur, the Russian new service reported.

Five satellites were launched from the 12-year-old space center, the last being in April 2006.

Mr Ivanov said, ''the year 2008 will become a milestone for the national space sector development prospects.'' UNI XC AKJ MSJ RS1038

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