Anyone in the world would agree that the most unique place on the planet associated with space exploration is located in Kazakhstan. It is Baikonur, there was made the first in the history of Mankind launch of manned spacecraft into space.
Baikonur (in Kazakh - Baikonyr - rich valley) is the first and the largest cosmodrome in the world, it is located on the territory of Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda region between the town Kazalinsk and the village Dzhusaly near the village Tyuratam; it occupies 6717 km².
City Baikonur and cosmodrome Baikonur are forming together a complex "Baikonur", Kazakhstan got it by right of succession from the Soviet Union, now Russia rents it from Kazakhstan for the period until 2050. Baikonur maintains its leading position in the world by number of launches: 21 carrier rockets were launched during the year (2012), on the second place is Cape Canaveral Spaceport (USA) with 10 starts for the year.
History of Cosmodrome
In 1955, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a resolution on the establishment of a testing ground for intercontinental ballistic missiles, to strengthen the defense of the country during the Cold War. Several options were considered for the possible disposition: Mari ASSR, Dagestan (west coast of the Caspian Sea), Astrakhan region (near the city Kharabali) and Kyzyl- Orda region.
Kyzyl-Orda region was chosen for a number of geographical factors; in Mari ASSR, point of radio control would be placed in forests and swamps, in Dagestan - in the remote mountainous area, in Astrakhan, one of the points would be placed on the Caspian Sea.
Government liked desert on the east from the Aral Sea, near Syr Darya, one of the largest rivers in Central Asia and the railroad Moscow - Tashkent. The relative proximity to the equator and more than three hundred sunny days per year were also the reasons for choosing this area as a ballistic missile launching site.
This area had the code name "Taiga" in the first half of 1955. Maj. Gen. G.M. Shubnikov was appointed as a construction manager. The first detachment of military engineers arrived at the station Tyr-Tam on January 12, 1955. Construction works at the site started in the second half of the winter of 1955.
June 2, 1955 is the official birthday of Baikonur. Five hundred twenty seven engineers and 237 technicians were at the site by the beginning of the tests and launches; the total number of soldiers was 3,600 people.
At the beginning of the construction of the ballistic missile launching site, no one thought and could know that in the future space rockets would aspire to sky from here. In Russian language the word "cosmodrome" was used only in science fiction novels. New building site was called simply "experimental range". When one of the constructers asked Sergei Korolev, chief designer of EDO -1 and the founder of practical astronautics, what is planned to build here, Korolev said: “The stadium! The biggest stadium in the world”.
Because it was time of a military confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, camouflage installations, "false spaceport" in Karaganda region, near the village Baikonur, were built to disorient potential enemy. Name Baikonur got stuck to the real spaceport after the launch of the space ship “Vostok” with Yuri Gagarin on board and this story was published in mass media.
The true location of the Soviet missile test site became known to U.S. intelligence on August 5, 1957 as a result of a routine flight of the spotter plane Lockheed U- 2 over the territory of the USSR. Polygon was designated as Tyuratam, name of nearest train station, in the western sources from 1957 until the beginning of 1990.
Finally, the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile R-7 was created under the leadership of Sergei Korolyov in 1957; it was used to launch the world's first artificial satellite in the same year.
The beginning of the space era started on October 4, 1957 at 22h 28min. It is a precise time of the launch of the world's first artificial satellite of the Earth using the Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile R -7.
"Sputnik -5" with dogs Belka and Strelka on board was launched on August 19, 1960. Spacecraft had landed on a specified area after 17 circuits around the Earth. Dogs returned alive.
Spacecraft “Vostok- 1” launched from the Baikonur on April 12, 1961 at 09h 07min. It was the first spacecraft in the world that delivered the person, Yuri Gagarin, into near-earth orbit. Spacecraft made one circuit around the earth in 1 hour and 48 minutes, and then landed in the Saratov region.
From "Baikonur" in 50 years were launched more than 1,500 spacecrafts for various purposes, more than 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles, tested 38 major types of missiles and more than 80 types of spacecraft and their modifications.
Cosmodrome crisis occured in 1991-1993, after the collapse of the USSR. Number of space launches had dropped dramatically, a number of officers and employees of the aerospace industry, in the existing situation of chaos and uncertainty, chose to leave with their families from the spaceport to home (in Russia, Ukraine, etc.) in search of a better life. Status of the spaceport was unclear, because it "appeared" to be on the territory of another country - Kazakhstan.
Office of the National Aerospace Agency of Kazakhstan on "Baikonur" was created in July 1993. Cosmodrome with city of Leninsk (now Baikonur) was leased to Russia in 1994.
Annual cost of rent is $ 115 million, on account of payment, Russian supplies Kazakhstan military and other equipment. As of 2012, Russia spends about 1.5 billion rubles per year on maintenance of the objects of cosmodrome Baikonur and about 1.16 billion rubles on maintenance of the city. It is the only one cosmodrome, available to Russia, which is adapted for the manned program and launches of the space crafts to geostationary orbit; other national Russian spaceports for such launches have not yet adapted.
City Leninsk was renamed to Baikonur by the Decree of the President of Kazakhstan as of December 20, 1995.
A phased transfer of cosmodrome objects from the Ministry of Defence to the jurisdiction of Roscosmos started in 1997. By 2009, the Russian soldiers left complex Baikonur and cosmodrome was fully transferred to Roscosmos.
In April 2011, Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency, said that there exists possibility of corporatization of Baikonur Cosmodrome in the future.
In January 2004, the Presidents N.A. Nazarbayev and V.V. Putin signed a resolution on the project of creation the space rocket complex "Baiterek" at the cosmodrome Baikonur. New launch facilities, with the universal firing table, are being built on the place of out of service launch pad; it will allow launching of the entire family of the rocket carriers "Angara". As a result of this agreement, the renting terms were extended to 2050 with the same rent $ 115 million per year.
Exploitation of the modern rocket-space complex will proceed on the principles of equal participation of Russia and Kazakhstan. Financing of the project lies on Kazakhstan side, and Russia is responsible for the scientific and technical development.
On June 15, 2012 the Presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to re-establish the Russian- Kazakhstan intergovernmental commission on complex Baikonur; as a chairman was appointed I. I. Shuvalov, First Deputy Prime Minister. It was made in order to improve the legal base, ensure the effective cooperation in the operation of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, create the necessary conditions for personnel living in the complex and in city Baikonur.
Russia spends annually about 4.2% of the total budget of Roscosmos (1.5 billion rubles in 2012) on maintenance of the cosmodrome objects. Moreover, 1.16 billion rubles (as of 2012) are transfer each year free of charge from the Russian federal budget to Baikonur city budget. The spaceport and the city cost 6.16 billion rubles per year in total for Russia.