On 1 March 1996 the Russian cosmodrome Svobodny was created by Decree 305 of the President of the Russian Federation. The main reason for its creation was the need to expand Russia’s capacity to launch spacecraft with different payloads.
The final choice for the location of the cosmodrome fell on a site near the railway station of Ledianaja, used for several decades by the 27th rocket division of Strategic Rocket Forces. This meant that the new cosmodrome could make use of the facilities of the former rocket division of the Strategic Rocket Forces as well as the considerable expertise of its personnel.
Sbododny is situated in the Russian Far East, 120 km north of Blagoveshensk, at latitude 51° 42' N and longitude 128° 00' E. This is an area that can provide maximum safety during launches as the launcher’s trajectory lies through deserted areas.
The Presidential Decree stated that the new cosmodrome would resolve the problems of the maintenance and preparation for launch of light-class launchers such as Strela and Start during 1996-1997, and that in the more remote future a launch complex for the next genereation Angara rocket could be built at the site.
Unfortunately, complex economic conditions within the country led to insufficient financing and it was decided to concentrate on building a launch complex for the Start family of launchers. To realise this project, technical buildings and launch sites for the Start launcher have been created.
The first launch from the Svobodny Cosmodrome took place on 4 March 1997 when a Start-1 launcher placed the Russian experimental satellite Zeya into a circular sun-synchronous orbit. To date a further three launches have taken place, all of which were for foreign companies or countries.
In 1999 it was decided to create a launch complex for the Strela launcher and work began immediately. The number of Strela launches will depend on the need to update the constellations of space vehicles and on requests for commercial launches of payloads of up to 2000 kg into near-Earth orbit or to the top layers of the atmosphere. From Svobodny spacecraft can be launched into orbits with inclinations of 51° to 62° degrees and from 90° to 104°.
The first Strela launch from Svobodny is planned to take place at the end of 2005. Further expansion of the test base, within the framework of the Strela project, will give an additional ‘push’ to developing the infrastructure at the cosmodrome.
Last update: 22 September 2004