Russia’s Vostochny Spaceport Opens for Operations. Bob Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack.

Mar 25, 2016, 05:59 AM

03-24-2016 (Photo: ‪ ‪Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Soyuz launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.)‬‬ Twitter: @BatchelorShow Russia’s Vostochny Spaceport Opens for Operations. Bob Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack. Vostochny begins practicing launch procedures. “The competition heats up: Dress rehearsals have begun for the first Soyuz rocket launch at Russia’s new spaceport Vostochny, scheduled sometime this spring. They have not announced an official launch date yet. “If all tests go as scheduled, the launch vehicle will be removed from the launch pad on March 25 and returned to its processing facility for the final assembly with its payloads, including Lomonosov, Aist-2D and Kontakt-Nanosputnik satellites, which will be delivered into orbit during the first mission from Vostochny. The State Commission overseeing the launch will be making decision on the date of the first liftoff based on the results of the tests, the readiness of the launch facilities and the completion of safety measures for the launch personnel, Roskosmos said…”

Fuel for Russia’s nuclear space engine. The competition heats up: According to Russian press sources, the first fuel for that country’s nuclear space engine project has now been delivered to Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy corporation. The article is very unclear whether this space engine is a nuclear power plant similar to those used by NASA’s deep space Voyager, Pioneer, and Cassini probes, or whether it is a real nuclear-powered engine designed to provide thrust. Russia has never launched a probe with the former, so that would be an advancement for them, but it would not be a game-changer in the exploration of the solar system. If the latter, however, it will give them the capability no one else has to travel quickly and more efficiently to other worlds. Based on a careful rereading of the article, I suspect the former.