The project of the wintering complex of the Vostok station. Photo: AANIA Archives

Construction and installation works have started in Antarctica at the site of the new wintering complex of the station “Vostok”. The assembly of three of the five modules described in the project should be completed in the spring of 2023.

“This year, work at the new wintering complex ‘Vostok’ began a month earlier than usual, which is very significant in the conditions of the short construction season in Antarctica. The new airfield at the station ‘Progress’ provided us with the opportunity to quickly deliver a construction and installation crew to the continent. Five trips on sleds and snow groomers along the ‘Progress’–‘Vostok’ route were promptly organized at once to deliver specialists and more than 830 tons of cargo. Two more such large-scale trips are planned in the near future. Our task is to have time to assemble three wintering modules and deliver all the necessary materials before the onset of the Antarctic winter in order to be able to continue internal commissioning during the period when access to the station will be limited,” said Aleksandr Makarov, director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

By the end of 2023, the builders will also have to set up the sub-frame, insulation, and exterior cladding. Then they will begin commissioning, installing heating and ventilation systems. The project is being implemented by the specialists from the Russian Antarctic Expedition of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and the company “Zapsibgazprom”.

The new wintering complex of the station “Vostok” will consist of five modules with a total area of about 2,000 m2 . The length of the station under construction is 140m, the maximum height is 17.5m. The modules will be installed on 36 three-meter supports, which will allow the station to not get covered with snow for many years. The installation of the supports was done last season.

In total, more than 2,500 tons of cargo will be delivered to the station “Vostok” this season for the construction of the new wintering complex, including construction materials and fuel. The operations will involve 90 specialists of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, “Zapsibgazprom”, and 45 pieces of equipment – 40 “Polar-300” transporters and five “Caterpillar” tractors.

The new wintering complex of the station “Vostok” is designed for year-round living and work of polar explorers at extremely low temperatures. The area of the station is considered the South Pole of Cold. It was here that the lowest temperature on the Earth’s surface was recorded on July 21, 1983: -89.2°C.

The complex will include science laboratories, residential and public facilities for polar explorers, energy centers and technical units for water purification and storage systems, as well as a garage. The station will have a modern medical unit with an operating room, a pressure chamber, dental and X-ray rooms, a gym and a sauna, as well as a mess hall with billiards and a cinema room. The complex will provide a comfortable stay and research activities of 35 seasonal specialists and up to 15 people during the wintering period.

Leonid Mikhelson, chairman of the Management Board of PAO NOVATEK, presented the project of the wintering complex of the station “Vostok” at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society in April 2019. The construction is planned to be completed in 2025.