Russia has decided to build a space complex in its far eastern Amur region. The Vostochny Cosmodrome will be located near the town of Ugelgorsk, 100 kilometers from the Chinese border and about 800 km north of Vladivostok.

Russia currently uses two launch sites: the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, which it has leased since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia. The Soyuz and Progress spacecraft that service the International Space Station both launch from Baikonur.

Vostochny, which eventually will employ between 20,000 and 25,000 workers, will give Russia independence in it’s launching of piloted space vehicles.

The 700-sq-km Vostochny Cosmodrome will have seven launch pads, including two for manned flights and two for space freighters. Other components will include a vehicle assembly and testing building, a residential compound and laboratories.

The first phase of construction, starting in 2011, will entail building 150 km of new roads and an equally long rail spur. Eight hundred million dollars has been allocated for construction for the first three years. The price tag for the cosmodrome is estimated at $13.5 billion.

The contractor will be Spetstroi, a military construction unit. The construction workforce is expected to peak at 30,000.

The first unmanned rocket is set to launch from Vostochny in 2015, with the first manned launch coming in 2018.