Putin lambasts space officials after launch delay

President Vladimir Putin (right) with Russian space officials at Vostochny cosmodrome. Photo: 27 April 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Putin (right) will stay at the cosmodrome until the second launch attempt is made

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged space officials to fix "hitches" after flying thousands of miles to see the first rocket launch from a new cosmodrome, only for it to be delayed.

The Soyuz launch from the Vostochny space port, about 5,500km (3,500 miles) east of Moscow, was called off just minutes before the planned lift-off.

Officials blamed a mechanical failure, and the launch was rescheduled for Thursday.

Mr Putin will stay on until then.

"The fact is there is a large number of hitches," the president said at a meeting with the country's top space officials on Wednesday.

"That is bad. There should be an appropriate reaction."

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Media captionInside Russia's new space port

The second launch attempt is now expected at 05:01 Moscow time (02:01 GMT) on Thursday.

At the meeting, Mr Putin also stressed that the launch delay was related to the rocket itself - not the cosmodrome.

It was Mr Putin's personal idea to build a new space port in Russia to avoid any potential political risks of using the old Soviet launch centre at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

But construction of the vast complex in Russia's Far East has been hit by delays and dogged by corruption scandals.

Four people have already been arrested.

"If their guilt is proven, they will have to change their warm beds at home for plank-beds in prison," the president warned.

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