Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov's visit to the Plesetsk first experimental state space centre is scheduled for February 25. As the Minister's press service reported, Mr. Ivanov will inspect the centre's functioning and its problems, the purpose being the creation of a well-designed infrastructure suitable for launching spaceships. The Plesetsk space centre has been created on the President's instructions during Mr. Putin's recent visit to the Khrunichev's Scientific and Production State Space Centre.
Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Kosovan said that in working on the centre there are two main issues currently present. One of them is reconstructing the launching pad for the Soyuz-2 rocket, the production of which has been mastered at the Progress engineering bureau in Samara, the other is building a universal fit-for-all launching pad suitable for light, medium and heavy rockets. Military experts estimate the expenses to be about $133 million, and once the programme is completed, Plestetsk will launch not only satellites, but piloted spaceships too. Currently about 75% of Russian launches is done at the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan, the rent of which costs Russia about $3.8 million a year.