MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's federal space agency has started work to design a new carrier rocket to orbit manned flights from a new space center in the country's Far East, the head of the agency said on Tuesday.
Roscosmos's Anatoly Perminov said priority would be given to the rocket's reliability and safety, including crew evacuation at any stage of the flight.
He said the new rocket would be used as a platform for heavier carriers with payloads of 50-60 tons and super-heavy carriers with payloads of 130-150 tons.
The construction of the new space center, Vostochny, will start in 2011 and should be completed in 2018.
Russia currently uses the Baikonur space center in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan, which it has leased since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Seven launch pads are to be built at the space center, including two for manned flights and two for space freighters.
A government official said in September that an inter-agency working group had been created, and that work to design elements of the station's infrastructure was in progress.