Putin has signed the decree for construction of a new Russian-soil cosmodrome capable of handling human spaceflight by 2018. The launch centre, in Russia’s Far East region of Amur, will be called Vostochny.

In 1994, Russia agreed to rent the Baikonur base from Kazakhstan ? which became an independent state after the collapse of the Soviet Union ? for an annual fee of $115 million (?87 million). According to the terms of an agreement signed in 2004, the lease of the base should continue until 2050. But the agreement came under threat in September, after an uncrewed Proton rocket crashed near a city where the Kazakh president happened to be visiting…

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