Construction is set to begin in 2011 on a long-planned launch facility in Russia’s far eastern province of Amur, Anatoly Perminov, director-general of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, told the Roscosmos Scientific and Engineering Board during an Aug. 25 meeting.

Russian officials expect to complete the Vostochny Cosmodrome by 2015 and have it ready to support manned launches by 2018, giving Russia a domestic alternative to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in July pledged more than $800 million to the project.