“I very much hope that it will be used not only by our specialists, but by our colleagues from the United States, Europe and other countries,” he said.
“Space is a sphere of activity that allows us to forget about all the difficulties of international relations,” said Putin, who has faced criticism from the United States and Europe over human rights since his return to the Kremlin last May.
Even after the new site is built, Putin said Russia will continue to use Baikonour, which it leases at a cost of $115 million a year under a deal that expires in 2050. But he said the facility on Kazakh soil was “physically aged.”
RETURNING TO DEEP SPACE
Putin, whose ambition is to restore Moscow’s Soviet-era might, said Russia will spend 1.6 trillion roubles ($52 million) on space exploration through 2020.
“It’s clear that in the 21st century Russia must preserve its status as a leading space power,” he said, estimating the size of the space-launch market will grow to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2030 from $300 billion-$400 billion today.
The Soviet Union got a jump on the United States in the space race when it launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, a moon probe in 1959 and Gagarin on his 108-minute orbit in 1961. But Russia has been absent from deep space for more than 20 years.
It bungled the 2011 launch of what was meant to be post-Soviet Russia’s interplanetary debut - the Phobos-Grunt Mars moon probe - amid a string of costly botched launches.