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First rocket launch from Russia's Vostochny delayed

By AFP | April 27th 2016

The first rocket launch from Russian cosmodrome Vostochny, which has been plagued by construction delays and mishaps, was on Wednesday postponed by a day, the space agency Roscosmos said.

The Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying three satellites was due to launch at 11.01 am local time (0201 GMT), but this was halted two and a half minutes before take-off, Russian news agencies reported Roscosmos director Igor Komarov as saying.

"The automated control system initiated an automatic halt," he said, while deputy-director Andrey Ivanov also ruled out the possibility of human error.

A second attempt will be made at the same time on Thursday, the agency said.

The new spaceport, located in the far eastern Amur region, has been hailed by President Vladimir Putin as the country's biggest current building project with a budget estimated between 300 and 400 billion rubles ($4.5 to $6 billion, 4.0 to 5.3 billion euros).

The president had travelled to the cosmodrome for its inaugural launch, his spokesman said.

Some 10,000 workers have since 2012 been building 115 kilometres (70 miles) of roads in the immense, sparsely populated region, as well as 125 kilometres of railways and a town with housing for 25,000 people.

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The Kremlin's goal is to ease Russia's dependence on space launches in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, a launch pad Moscow has been forced to rent at a cost of $115 million a year since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the space and defence industries, said that Russia would continue to use Baikonur to launch manned missions until 2023, and the Soyuz 2.1a would be the only launch from Vostochny in 2016.

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