Putin’s anger relents as first rocket is launched from new space centre

A rocket has successfully launched from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome on Thursday after a last-minute delay a day earlier enraged president Vladimir Putin. The Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying three satellites took off at 11.01am local time. "The rocket launch was carried out successfully. All three satellites are now in orbit,“ the Roscosmos space agency said. Mr Putin, who had chastised officials after the delay, watched the launch, having travelled to Russia’s far east to witness the first attempt at take-off halted for technical reasons 24 hours earlier.

I want to congratulate you. We can be proud. Yesterday the technical side was put to the test and the launch had to be stopped, but it happens. It’s a normal thing

President Vladimir Putin

Mr Putin has championed the new space centre, which was built so Russia no longer has to rely on its Soviet-era base in Kazakhstan for launches. Its construction has been beset by delays and allegations of corruption, with four suspects already arrested. He was enraged by the delay, telling space agency officials: "The fact that we’re encountering a large number of failures is bad. There must be a timely and professional reaction.” But he mellowed after Thursday’s launch, telling staff: “The most important thing is that the launching system works… There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s a serious and important contribution to the development of the Russian space industry.”