The Nizhny Novgorod Region Risking to Lose a Spaceport Not Yet Built

The Nizhny Novgorod Region Risking to Lose a Spaceport Not Yet Built

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Delayed documentation approval from the part of the Nizhny Novgorod region’s officials has led to the fact that the Cosmocourse company is transferring the testing stage of the reusable flyback rocket engines from the Nizhny Novgorod region to the Moscow region.

In addition, the company has already turned down three of the proposed seventeen sites for the construction of a spaceport in the Nizhny Novgorod region.

Pavel Pushkin, Cosmocourse CEO, told Kommersant FM Nizhny Novgorod that since there are 14 more potential sites in 11 districts of the Nizhny Novgorod region, the company keeps up its hopes of building a spaceport for suborbital tourist flights there. One of them is considered as a high priority, and an application for it is being drafted. As regards the rest of the sites need, there is a need for clarification of requirements and additional information on them if there are any factors that may hinder the construction of the spaceport.

Pushkin admits that there are sticking points and misunderstandings on the part of both his company and the Nizhny Novgorod region government -- this is the first project of a private spaceport and nobody knows how to cope with all the issues. Moreover, there is already a lag behind a schedule that has resulted in the transfer of engine tests to the Moscow region. However, Pushkin is confident that in 2025, the space tourism project will lift off as scheduled.

Earlier, Cosmocourse announced a project for tourist suborbital flights in a vehicle for up to 7 people including an instructor of a returnable rocket. The entire space complex is Cosmocourse’s own development. The flight will cost about $250,000 per person and take 15 minutes, about five of which will be held in zero-gravity. The company plans to make 120 flights per year.

The agreement on construction of the spaceport was signed between Cosmocourse and the authorities of the Nizhny Novgorod region in March 2019. According to the plan, a total of 10-12 suborbital complexes are to be built per year. At launch, the rocket weighs 80 tonnes, while the spacecraft weighs 7 tonnes. The latter enters the orbit vertically, then separates from the rocket and continues the flight independently. The rocket returns to Earth with the aid of a cruise engine. After the flight, the ship lands on a rocket-assisted parachute system. Before the flights start, the investment in the project will amount to $150-200 million and will pay off not earlier than in 10 years.

Pavel Pushkin, Cosmocourse’s CEO, has 10 years of experience. Previousy, he worked for Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Moscow-based manufacturer of spacecraft and space-launch systems, including the Proton and Rokot rockets, and the Russian modules of Mir space stations and the International Space Station. The Cosmocourse private space company managed to attract the best Russian aerospace engineers, and about 30 people work there. It was established 5 years ago on the premises of the Skolkovo Innovation Center, a high technology business area in Moscow’s Mozhaysky disctrict, as its resident company.

Before entering suborbital space, space tourists will be examined by doctors, after which they will have a three-day flight preparation course. Primarily, Cosmocourse is going to make money by servicing foreign customers. In this respect, the Russian space carriers have all chances to cross path to Jeff Bezos, the dollar billionaire who also is planning to rush wealthy clients to suborbital space with the help of his own development – the New Shepard suborbital rocket which has already passed the tests. Bezos invests about $1 billion in space development a year. The Morgan Stanley Bank has already recommended its clients to take a closer look at Bezos' space exploration activities.