Former Svobodnyy-18 ICBM Base To Launch SatellitesMoscow Russian Television and Dubl Networks 27 Jul 94
[V. Morozov Amur Television video report; from the "Dalniy Vostok" program] After visiting Svobodnyy-18 today we received visual proof that the infrastructure of the facility and the buildings left behind by the strategic rocket division already form a solid base for the Main Center for Testing and Utilizing Space Hardware. Just take a look for yourselves. [video shows aerial view of grassy area crisscrossed by roads, groups of one-storey buildings, remains of a demolished missile silo] We flew over the combat launching sites in a helicopter to see where the missiles had been deployed. There were a total of 60 such sites. In accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the United States, 55 silos were blown up. Recultivation of the land is just beginning. The five remaining silos will be used by the Main Center for Testing and Utilizing Space Hardware. We visited one of them. The 40-tonne cover plate moved aside on rails and a silo more than 20 meters deep opened up before us. [video shows silo cover opening, then cuts to show Major General A. N. Vinidiktov, chief of the Main Center for Testing and Utilizing Space Hardware, talking to reporter] [Begin Vinidiktov recording] This is the combat launch position for an intercontinental ballistic missile. Disassembly has already been completed and the launch site has been prepared for demolition. However, because there are plans to use it in again it has been preserved in the condition it was in during the final stage of disassembly work. [end recording] It is quite possible that in 1996 this is precisely the place from which a satellite will be launched. And now imagine how much money would be needed, how much would be literally buried in the ground, if the test center had to be developed elsewhere? The military units are already being gradually supplemented with new people today and new recruits arrived recently. Officers, academy graduates, and young lieutenants are expected. There are 33 communal buildings in the residential town today and very soon this will not be enough and new construction will begin. [video shows military residential area, troops marching through town] In conclusion I would like to draw your attention once again to the fact that the Main Center for Testing and Utilizing Space Hardware is located in Svobodnyy-18 today, not a cosmodrome for manned space flights. Yes, space satellites will be launched from here, but the launches will be carried out on an already available basis. As far as a cosmodrome for manned space flight is concerned, it still remains to be built, and the decision on this will be worked out by the Russian President's staff [u prezidenta] and all sides concerned will be involved.