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Baikonur Cosmodrome

Baikonur Cosmodrome

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The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility
Spaceport
A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word spaceport, and even more so cosmodrome, has traditionally been used for sites capable of launching spacecraft into orbit around Earth or on interplanetary trajectories...

. It is located in the desert steppe
Kazakh Steppe
The Kazakh Steppe or Kirghiz Steppe ecoregion, of the Palearctic Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe,...

 of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, about 200 kilometres (124 mi) east of the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was a lake that lay between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south...

, north of the Syr Darya
Syr Darya
The Syr Darya , also transliterated Syrdarya or Sirdaryo, is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes from its Ancient Greek name . The Greek name is derived from Old Persian, Yakhsha Arta , a reference to the color of the river's water...

 river, near Tyuratam
Tyuratam
Tyuratam is a station on the main Moscow to Tashkent railway, located in Kazakhstan. The name is a word in the Kazakh language and means "Töre's grave"; Töre, or more formally, Töre-Baba, was a noble, a descendant of Genghis Khan...

 railway station, at 90 meters above sea level. It is leased by the Kazakh government to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 (currently until 2050) and is managed jointly by the Russian Federal Space Agency
Russian Federal Space Agency
The Russian Federal Space Agency , commonly called Roscosmos and abbreviated as FKA and RKA , is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency .Headquarters of Roscosmos are located...

 and the Russian Space Forces. The shape of the area leased is an ellipse, measuring 90 kilometers east-west by 85 kilometres north-south, with the cosmodrome at the centre. It was originally built by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in the late 1950s as the base of operations for its space program
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

. Under the current Russian space program, Baikonur remains a busy space port, with numerous commercial, military and scientific missions being launched annually.

Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

, the first manned spacecraft in human history, was launched from one of Baikonur's launch pads, which is presently known as Gagarin's Start
Gagarin's Start
Gagarin's Start is a launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, used for the Soviet space program and now managed by the Russian Federal Space Agency....

.

Soviet era



The Soviet government issued the decree about Scientific-Research Test Range No. 5 (NIIP-5; ) on 12 February 1955. It was actually founded on 2 June 1955, originally being a test center for a first missile of a completely new class — the intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 (ICBM), the R-7 Semyorka
R-7 Semyorka
The R-7 was a Soviet missile developed during the Cold War, and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 made 28 launches between 1957 and 1961, but was never deployed operationally. A derivative, the R-7A, was deployed from 1960 to 1968...

. NIIP-5 was soon expanded to include launch facilities for space flights. The site was selected by a commission led by Gen. Vasily Voznyuk, influenced by Sergey Korolyov
Sergey Korolyov
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev ; died 14 January 1966 in Moscow, Russia) was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s...

, the Chief Designer of the R-7 ICBM, and soon the man behind the Soviet space program. It had to be surrounded by plains, as the radio control system of the rocket required (at the time) receiving uninterrupted signals from ground stations hundreds kilometres away. Additionally, the missile trajectory had to be away from populated areas. Taking these two constraints into consideration, the commission chose Tyuratam, a village in the heart of the Kazakh Steppe
Kazakh Steppe
The Kazakh Steppe or Kirghiz Steppe ecoregion, of the Palearctic Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe,...

. The expense of constructing the launch facilities and the several hundred kilometres of new road and train lines made the Cosmodrome one of the most costly infrastructure projects the Soviets undertook. A supporting town was built around the facility to provide housing, schools and support infrastructure for workers. It was raised to city status in 1966 and named Leninsk
Leninsk
Leninsk may refer to:*Leninsk, Volgograd Oblast, a town in Volgograd Oblast, Russia*Leninsk, a former urban-type settlement in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia; since 2005—part of the city of Miass *Leninsk-Kuznetsky, a city in Kemerovo Oblast, Russia...

 (presently Baikonur
Baikonur
Baikonur , formerly known as Leninsk, is a city in Kyzylorda Province of Kazakhstan, rented and administered by the Russian Federation. It was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome and was officially renamed Baikonur by Russian president Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995.The shape of the...

).

The U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance plane
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

 found and photographed the Tyuratam missile test range for the first time on 5 August 1957.

Name


There are conflicting sources about origins of the name "Baikonur". Some sources say that it was not until 1961 (i.e. until Gagarin's flight), when the name "Baikonur" was deliberately chosen to misdirect the West to a place about 320 kilometres (199 mi) northeast of the launch centre, a small mining town Baikonur near Jezkazgan.

Other sources state that "Baikonur" was a name of the Tyuratam
Tyuratam
Tyuratam is a station on the main Moscow to Tashkent railway, located in Kazakhstan. The name is a word in the Kazakh language and means "Töre's grave"; Töre, or more formally, Töre-Baba, was a noble, a descendant of Genghis Khan...

 region even before the cosmodrome existed. The main cosmodrome-supporting town Leninsk was renamed to Baikonur on 20 December 1995 by Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

.

Environmental impact


Russian scientist Afanasiy Ilich Tobonov
Afanasiy Ilich Tobonov
Afanasiy Ilich Tobonov was a Russian veterinarian who established that fuel from stages ejected from rockets launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome was the cause of death for livestock and wildlife....

 researched mass animal deaths in the 1990s and concluded that the mass deaths of birds and wildlife in the Sakha Republic were noted only along the flight paths of space rockets launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Dead wildlife and livestock were usually incinerated, and the participants in these incinerations, including Tobonov, his brothers and inhabitants of his native village of Eliptyan Horulinskogo naslega commonly died from stroke or cancer. In 1997, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation changed the flight path and removed the ejected rocket stages near Nyurbinsky District, Russia.

Importance


Many historic flights lifted off from Baikonur: the first operational ICBM; the first man-made satellite, Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

, on 4 October 1957; the first spacecraft to travel close to the Moon, Luna 1
Luna 1
Luna 1 , first known as First Cosmic Ship, then known as Mechta was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and the first of the Luna program of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon.While traveling through the outer Van Allen...

, on 2 January 1959; the first manned orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 on 12 April 1961; and the flight of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Soviet cosmonaut, and was the first woman in space. She was selected out of more than four hundred applicants, and then out of five finalists, to pilot Vostok 6 on the 16 June, 1963, becoming both the first woman and the first civilian to fly in...

, in 1963. 14 cosmonauts of 13 other nations, such as Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, East Germany and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, started their historic journeys from here as well under the Interkosmos
Intercosmos
Interkosmos was a space program of the Soviet Union designed to include members of military forces of allied Warsaw Pact countries in manned and unmanned missions...

 program. In 1960, a prototype R-16
R-16
The R-16 was the first successful intercontinental ballistic missile deployed by the Soviet Union. In the West it was known by the NATO reporting name SS-7 Saddler, and within Russia, it carried the GRAU index 8K64.- Description :...

 ICBM exploded before launch
Nedelin catastrophe
The Nedelin catastrophe or Nedelin disaster was a launch pad accident that occurred on 24 October 1960, at Baikonur Cosmodrome during the development of the Soviet R-16 ICBM...

, killing over 100 people.

Russian era



Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 in 1991 the Russian space program continued to operate from Baikonur
Baikonur
Baikonur , formerly known as Leninsk, is a city in Kyzylorda Province of Kazakhstan, rented and administered by the Russian Federation. It was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome and was officially renamed Baikonur by Russian president Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995.The shape of the...

 under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

. On 8 June 2005 the Russian Federation Council
Federation Council of Russia
Federation Council of Russia ) is the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , according to the 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation...

 ratified an agreement between Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 extending Russia’s rent term of the spaceport until 2050. The rent price — which is fixed at 115 million US dollars per year — is the source of a long-running dispute between the two countries. As an attempt to reduce its dependency on Baikonur, Russia is planning on constructing the Vostochny Cosmodrome
Vostochny Cosmodrome
The Vostochny Cosmodrome is a planned Russian spaceport, to be located at 51 degrees north in the Amur Oblast, in the Russian Far East. It is intended to reduce Russia's dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan...

 in Amur Oblast
Amur Oblast
Amur Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , situated about east of Moscow on the banks of the Amur and Zeya Rivers. It shares its border with the Sakha Republic in the north, Khabarovsk Krai and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the east, People's Republic of China in the south, and Zabaykalsky...

.

Features


Baikonur is fully equipped with facilities for launching both manned and unmanned spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

. It supports several generations of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n spacecraft: Soyuz, Proton, Tsyklon
Tsyklon
The Tsyklon , GRAU index 11K67, was a Soviet/Ukrainian-designed expendable launch system, primarily used to put Cosmos satellites into low Earth orbit. It is based on the R-36 intercontinental ballistic missile designed by Mikhail Yangel and made eight launches, with seven successes, and one failure...

, Dnepr, Zenit and Buran. During the temporary lapse of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

' Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 program after the Columbia Disaster
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

 in 2003 it played an essential role in operating and resupplying of the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 (ISS) with Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. Its high latitude of 46 N required the high orbital inclination of the ISS.

Downrange from the launchpad, spent launch equipment is dropped directly on the ground where it is salvaged by the workers and by the local population.

List of launchpads

  • Pad 1/5 (Gagarin's Start)
    Gagarin's Start
    Gagarin's Start is a launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, used for the Soviet space program and now managed by the Russian Federal Space Agency....

    : Soyuz-Soyuz, Soyuz-Progress, Soyuz-Ikar — 45.920°N 63.342°E
  • Pad 31/6: Soyuz-Cosmos, Soyuz-Fregat
    Fregat
    Fregat is a type of rocket stage developed by NPO Lavochkin in the 1990s. Its main engine is a liquid propellant rocket that uses UDMH and N2O4 as propellants.- Specifications :...

     — 45.996°N 63.564°E
  • Pad 41/15: Cosmos 3
    Cosmos-3M
    The Kosmos-3M is a Russian space launch vehicle. It is a liquid-fueled two-stage rocket, first launched in 1967 and with over 420 successful launches to its name. The Cosmos 3M uses nitrogen tetroxide as an oxidizer to lift roughly 1400 kg of payload into orbit...

     (1964–1968) — 45.976°N 63.669°E
  • Pad 45/1
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 45
    Site 45 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a launch site used by Zenit rockets. It consists of two pads, one of which is still in use. It has been the launch site for all Soviet and Russian government Zenit launches, along with a commercial launch conducted for Globalstar in 1998, and continuing...

    : Zenit-2
    Zenit-2
    The Zenit-2 is a Ukrainian, previously Soviet, expendable carrier rocket. First flown in 1985, it has been launched 37 times, with six failures. It is a member of the Zenit family of rockets, and was designed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau. A modified version, the Zenit-2S, is used as the first two...

    , Zenit-2M
    Zenit-2M
    The Zenit-2M, Zenit-2SB or Zenit-2SLB is an Ukrainian expendable carrier rocket derived from the Zenit-3SL. It is a member of the Zenit family of rockets, which were designed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau...

    , Zenit-3M
    Zenit-3SLB
    The Zenit-3SLB or Zenit-3M is a Ukrainian expendable carrier rocket derived from the Zenit-2SLB. It is a member of the Zenit family of rockets, which were designed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau...

     — 45.943°N 63.653°E
  • Pad 45/2
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 45
    Site 45 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a launch site used by Zenit rockets. It consists of two pads, one of which is still in use. It has been the launch site for all Soviet and Russian government Zenit launches, along with a commercial launch conducted for Globalstar in 1998, and continuing...

     (Destroyed in 1990 explosion): Zenit 2 — 45.940°N 63.655°E
  • Pad 81/23 (81L)
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 81
    Site 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a launch site used, along with Site 200, by Proton rockets. It consists of two launch pads, areas 23 and 24. Area 24 is currently used for Proton-K and Proton-M launches, while Area 23 is currently inactive....

    : Proton-K — 46.074°N 62.978°E
  • Pad 81/24 (81P)
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 81
    Site 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a launch site used, along with Site 200, by Proton rockets. It consists of two launch pads, areas 23 and 24. Area 24 is currently used for Proton-K and Proton-M launches, while Area 23 is currently inactive....

    : Proton-M — 46.071°N 62.985°E
  • Pad 90/19 (90L) (Inactive >1989): Tsyklon-2
    Tsyklon-2
    The Tsyklon-2, also known as Tsiklon-2 and Tsyklon-M, GRAU index 11K69, was a Soviet, and subsequently Ukrainian orbital carrier rocket. A derivative of the R-36 ICBM, and a member of the Tsyklon family, it made its maiden flight on 6 August 1969, and after 106 launches, made its final flight on 24...

     — 46.081°N 62.932°E
  • Pad 90/20 (90R): Tsyklon-2 — 46.080°N 62.935°E
  • Pad 109/95
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 109
    Site 109/95 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a missile silo built for use by the R-36 missile, which has been converted into a launch site for the Dnepr-1 carrier rocket....

    : Dnepr — 45.951°N 63.497°E
  • Pad 110/37 (110L) (inactive after 1988): N-1, Energia
    Energia
    Energia was a Soviet rocket that was designed by NPO Energia to serve as a heavy-lift expendable launch system as well as a booster for the Buran spacecraft. Control system main developer enterprise was the NPO "Electropribor"...

    -Buran — 45.965°N 63.305°E
  • Pad 110/38 (110R): N-1 (inactive after 1969) — 45.962°N 63.310°E
  • Pad 175/59: Rokot (1991–1994) — 46.052°N 62.986°E
  • Pad 200/39
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 200
    Site 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a launch site used by Proton rockets. It consists of two launch pads, areas 39 and 40. Area 39 is currently used for Proton-M launches, including commercial flights conducted by International Launch Services. Area 40 is currently inactive, as it was slated to...

     (200L): Proton-M/Proton-K — 46.040°N 63.032°E
  • Pad 200/40
    Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 200
    Site 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a launch site used by Proton rockets. It consists of two launch pads, areas 39 and 40. Area 39 is currently used for Proton-M launches, including commercial flights conducted by International Launch Services. Area 40 is currently inactive, as it was slated to...

     (200R): Proton-K (inactive after 1991) — 46.036°N 63.038°E
  • Pad 250 (inactive after 1987): Energia
    Energia
    Energia was a Soviet rocket that was designed by NPO Energia to serve as a heavy-lift expendable launch system as well as a booster for the Buran spacecraft. Control system main developer enterprise was the NPO "Electropribor"...

     — 46.008°N 63.305°E

ICBM testing


Although Baikonur has always been known around the world as the launch site of Soviet and Russian space missions, from its outset in 1955 and until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the primary purpose of this center was to test liquid-fueled ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

s. The official (and secret) name of the center was State Test Range No. 5 or 5 GIK. It remained under control of the Soviet and Russian Ministry of Defense until the second half of the 1990s, when the Russian civilian space agency and its industrial contractors started taking over individual facilities.

In 2006, the head of Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov
Anatoly Perminov
Dr. Prof. Anatoly Nikolayevich Perminov is a Russian rocket scientist and a mechanical engineer. He served as the General Director of Russian Federal Space Agency in 2004–2011.-Career:...

 said the last Russian military personnel would be removed from the Baikonur facility by 2007. However, on 22 October 2008 an SS-19 Stiletto missile was test fired from Baikonur, indicating this may not be the case.

Future projects


On 22 December 2004, Kazakhstan and Russia signed a contract establishing the "Russia-Kazakhstan Baiterek JV" joint venture, in which each country holds a 50-percent stake. The goal of the project is the construction of the Bayterek
Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 250
Site 250 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, also known as UKSS and Bayterek , is a test facility and launch site which was used by the Energia rocket during the 1980s. The site consists of a single launch pad, which doubled as a test stand, and is supported by an engineering area and a propellant storage...

 ("poplar
Poplar
Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar , aspen, and cottonwood....

 tree") space launch complex, to facilitate operations of the Russian Angara rocket launcher. This will allow launches with a payload of 26 tons to low earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

, compared to 20 tons using the Proton system. An additional benefit will be that the Angara uses kerosene as fuel and oxygen as the oxidiser, which is less hazardous to the environment than the toxic fuels used by older boosters. The total expenditure on the Kazakh side will be $223 million over 19 years. As of 2010, the project is stalling due to insufficient funding. It is thought that the project still has good chances to succeed because it will allow both parties – Russia and Kazakhstan – to continue the joint use of Baikonur even after the Vostochny Cosmodrome
Vostochny Cosmodrome
The Vostochny Cosmodrome is a planned Russian spaceport, to be located at 51 degrees north in the Amur Oblast, in the Russian Far East. It is intended to reduce Russia's dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan...

 is commissioned.

External links