Russia has launched its inaugural rocket from a new cosmodrome, a day after a technical glitch delayed the much publicised spectacle by 24 hours.
The unmanned Soyuz rocket carrying three satellites took off from the launch pad at Vostochny in the Amur Region near China’s border.
The day before a disgruntled Russian President Vladimir Putin met with officials at the new cosmodrome after the original launch time was called off less than two minutes before liftoff. Putin had had flown thousands of kilometres to watch what had been billed as an historic event.
The Vostochny spaceport is the flagship project in Putin’s planned 52bn dollar investment in space exploration. The civilian rocket launch site on Russian territory is intended to phase out Russia’s reliance on the Baikonur site that Moscow leases at great expense from Kazakhstan.
The project has however, been blighted by delays and corruption. Several people involved in building Vostochny are under criminal investigation for embezzlement, workers went on strike over pay arrears, costs overran, and the project missed its scheduled completion date last year.