Russia unveils plans to modernize Plesetsk
Colonel Aleksey Kuznetsov, head of the press service of the Russian Space Troops, has announced plans to modernise the airfield and replace equipment at the Plesetsk military air base in the Arkhangelsk Region.
“The modernisation plan for the Space Troops base in Plesetsk is drawn up. The base is utilised to support Russia’s northern spaceport and the work planned for 2005 will cost R421.3 million (€11.7 million).” the officer said. In his announcement he said that taxi strips and aircraft parking areas will be ready by the end of 2005 and that radio and lighting equipment would also be replaced.
“The equipment at the Plesetsk air base allows air traffic providing cloud cover is no lower than 150 meters. However, as the climate here is adverse and the sky is covered with clouds almost half the year, the cloud base is much lower,” he said. “The new equipment should allow air traffic even with a cloud cover of 50 meters.”
Colonel Kuznetsov added that the runway was elongated by 600 meters during 2003 and 2004. In addition, two kilometres of concrete plates were also replaced — costing a total of R510 m (€13.8 million). The runway is now 2600 meters long, which allows Il-76 and Tu-154 transports both to land and take off.
ESA has plans to launch several missions from Plesetsk in the next few years. Between 2005 and 2008, three Earth Explorer missions will take place: Cryosat, GOCE and SMOS. Rockot launchers, provided by EUROCKOT European-Russian joint venture in cooperation with the Khrunichev Center , will be used to launch these spacecraft into orbit.
In addition, through the continuing successful cooperation between ESA and Russia on the Foton programme, the next Foton-M2 with ESA microgravity experiments on board, will be launched in early summer from Plesetsk by a Soyuz launcher.