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Putin Says Russia Will Launch Manned Missions From New Space Center

Russian currently launches spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia will launch its manned space missions from a new center in the Far East in 2018.

Putin made the remarks as he inaugurated the start of construction for the new cosmodrome in the town of Vostochny, some 5,800 kilometers east of Moscow, and a few hundred away from China.

He said on state television that Vostochny fulfills the "strategic" need for Russia to have its own modern launch facility.

He also described the construction as "one of the biggest and most ambitious projects of modern Russia," which "gives opportunity to thousands of young professionals to use their talent."

Launches of the first unmanned spacecraft from the new center are expected in 2015.

Russia currently uses the Soviet-built Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for all of its manned space missions and other commercial launches, as well as another center in northern Russia for military satellite launches.

compiled from agency reports