Speaking to the orbiting astronauts currently on the International Space Station, Putin announced a $52 billion package to be spent on its space program through till 2020. This includes completion of a new launch facility, the Vostochny cosmodrome in the far east of Russia, with the first launches from the facility hopefully taking place in 2015 and the first manned launches in 2018.
"It's going to be a great launch pad," said Putin, "It took a long time to choose, but now work is fully underway."
At present Russian manned flights are launched from the Baikanour cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with hard return landings made on solid ground, whereas launches from the new facility, once opened, will then have much softer splash downs in the Pacific ocean, similar to those of the US Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s. More emphasis will also be placed on unmanned space activities as, according to Putin, Russia had fallen behind on these as it had focused on manned flight to the detriment of everything else.