Baikonur is the world's first cosmodrome built by the Soviet Union on the territory of present-day Kazakhstan. And it is in second place in the world in terms of the total number of launched rockets and satellites after Plesetsk - 1479 and 1811 at the beginning of 2018, respectively. Baikonur was the leader in the number of annual launches into orbit for 20 years of the space era (in 1957, 1965, 1968, 1994, 1999-2002 and 2004-2015).
Baikonur is the most intensively used cosmodrome in the USSR before 1968, and in Russia after 1994 (the largest annual number of launches within the USSR or the CIS). The maximum number of launches into orbit from Baikonur was 48 in 1987. In addition, more than a thousand intercontinental (ICBM) and suborbital ballistic missiles were tested from this cosmodrome. At present, the territory of the cosmodrome is in the Russian lease until the middle of the 21st century, the annual rental cost reaches about 8 billion rubles or $ 110 million.
The First Soviet Missile Range Kapustin Yar
The initial goal of creating a new aerospace center was to test the first Soviet ICBMs. The Kapustin Yar missile range, where the first Soviet ballistic missiles were tested, did not allow safe tests of missiles with a flight range of at least 7,000 km. The new missile test site was supposed to have the following conditions: proximity to the railway and fresh water sources, location in a sparsely populated area, remote from agricultural areas, and also located at a distance from Kamchatka (which was chosen as the area of the fall of the warheads of the tested ICBMs) at least 7 thousand km. In addition, it was necessary to place several radio control stations near the cosmodrome, which in the end made it possible in 1954 for the Kyzyl-Orda region of Kazakhstan to receive priority over other candidates. Other advantages of the new test site were the proximity to the equator (the Earth's rotation speed at the latitude of Baikonur is 315 meters per second, and at the latitude of Plesetsk - 211 meters per second) and a large number of cloudless days and nights (more than three hundred per year). The new missile range was located between two regional centers of the Kyzyl-Orda region of Kazakhstan - Kazalinsk and Dzhusaly, near the Tyura-Tam junction of the Central Asian railway. 7 thousand square kilometers of the Kazakh steppe were allocated for the landfill. Initially, in December 1954, a reconnaissance expedition worked in the area of the future missile range, and in February 1955, the construction of the range itself began. Initially, the new facility was named NIIP No. 5 (the fifth research testing ground of the USSR Ministry of Defense). To conceal the secret military facility, the missile range was also codenamed “Taiga”, in addition, a false missile range with dummy launch sites was built a few hundred kilometers near the village of Baikonur miners. The false cosmodrome was even guarded until the 70s of the 20th century. After Gagarin's flight, the name Baikonur was stuck in the Soviet press and for the operating cosmodrome.
Nevertheless, the West learned about the new Soviet missile range even before the official announcement in Soviet newspapers of the world's first successful test of ICBMs, which was made on August 27, 1957. The fact is that in 1956, the CIA began to use a new U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, which was capable of obtaining, using a Perkin-Elmer camera, images of the surface from a height of 18 km, 150 km wide and 3000 km long with a resolution of 0. 6 meters. For 4 years, the U-2 made 24 reconnaissance flights over the USSR, and filmed 15% of the territory of the USSR. During one of these flights on August 5, 1957, a previously unknown Soviet missile range was discovered near the Syrdarya River. Since then, photographing the new object has become the goal of regular U-2 flights over the USSR, which were carried out from the Middle East to Norway (in particular, it was photographed in the last U-2 flight over the USSR on May 1, 1960, before the missile intercepted the C -75 over the Urals).
Image of the U-2 launch pad of Baikonur
On the other hand, information about Baikonur did not leak into the open western press for a long time. The Western press in the 50s of the 20th century assumed that the first satellites and ICBMs of the USSR were launched from the Kapustin Yar missile range. Until the early 90s of the 20th century, the missile range in the western print was called Tyuratam in honor of the nearby railway station.
Construction work on the missile range began in early 1956. Initially, the builders lived in tents, then in the spring of 1956 dugouts were dug, and on May 5, 1956, the construction of wooden buildings began. From 1958 to 1969, the residential town was called the Leninsky settlement. In 1969 it became the city of Leninsk, and in 1995 it was renamed Baikonur. Now the city is home to about 40 thousand people.
Photo of the pit under the first launch pad
About 3,600 military personnel, 500 engineers and 200 technicians were involved in the construction of the first launch pad. The most time-consuming work was digging the foundation for the launch pad. Even the superficial two-meter layer of sand in winter had to be blasted, and underneath it had to work with clay, which was difficult to succumb to the pressure of the excavator bucket and the blows of a jackhammer. Nevertheless, in a year they managed to dig and concretize a huge foundation pit fifty meters deep, 100 meters wide, 250 meters long and a million cubic meters in volume. It is interesting to note that when digging a pit at a depth of 36 meters, traces of a fire were found, aged 10-30 thousand years. Nikolai Pavlovich Korolev kept a part of this prehistoric fire in his matchbox. On May 5, 1957, the first launch pad was accepted by the commission for work, and the very next day the first R-7 ICBM was installed on it. The development of a new rocket began in 1950, and its production was established at the plant No. 88 near Moscow.
Baikonur is the first and largest cosmodrome in the world. This location excites the minds of everyone who cares about space distances and impressive buildings. So what is hidden behind the walls of the cosmodrome
In official documents, the cosmodrome's birthday is June 2, 1955. It was then that the first and main cosmodrome of the USSR entered into operation. It was located on 6717 km² near the village of Toretam. In total, the complex is an extensive infrastructure, which includes 15 launch complexes of 9 types for launching carrier rockets and four launchers for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as various complexes for different types of work. It is noteworthy that after the collapse of the USSR, the complex became an object of lease, and now the Russian Federation spends about 9 billion a year to Kazakhstan. Baikonur is still leading in the number of launches per year, which indicates that the legendary cosmodrome not only works, but has not lost its status.
The site was chosen for a reason. Baikonur is located not far from one of the largest Central Asian rivers, the Syr Darya, and the important Moscow-Tashkent railway artery. Another positive factor is the relative proximity to the equator.
In the 60s, a major accident occurred here, but this practically did not affect the activities of the cosmodrome. Over the entire period of its existence, more than 1,500 spacecraft, over 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and more than 80 types of spacecraft and their modifications have been launched. It is difficult to imagine the complexity of the work of the cosmodrome employees.
Complete DShS Nikolskaya card for those who are interested in digging.
The program called "Energia-Buran" is the space program of the reusable transport space system. Its foundations were laid back in 1975, and there are only two implemented programs of this type in the world. 70 ministries and departments and 1286 enterprises, which employed more than a million people, worked on the Energia-Buran system. For 18 years of development, the budget has exceeded 16 billion rubles. “Buran” made its first and only space flight on November 15, 1988, by means of the “Energia” launch vehicle.
The flight of the rocket is remarkable for its accuracy. Just imagine: the rocket flies at a speed of almost 28,000 km/h, flies around the ground twice, and then returns to the starting point with an error of only one and a half meters. But that's not all, because the flight takes place entirely on autopilot. This flight was even listed in the Guinness Book of Records!
Stalkers do not bypass Baikonur, although getting there, to put it mildly, is very difficult. By direct road communication, the cosmodrome is located almost 400 kilometers from Moscow. There is also an air communication, but it is available only to a select few, or rather, to the location employees. As for the railway communication, it solves only part of the problems and can hardly be called route optimization.
A total of 92 structures are located on the territory of Baikonur, each of which has its own purpose, degree of security and importance. The buildings are predominantly of the same height, although there is a workshop with a height equal to a 15-storey building 2.5 km from the Gagarinsky Start launch site.
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The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is the main launch site of the planet. It spreads over an area of almost 7 thousand km². Dozens of sites, hundreds of railways and highways, thousands of specialists ensure the operation of the space harbor, which still has no equal in the world.
Correspondents of the "Special Report" program learned how they meet tourists at one of the most secret objects of the Soviet Union.
The famous "Gagarin Start". For several years before the flight, all ships have been blessed by a priest of the Orthodox Church. This is one of the traditions that have recently appeared at the cosmodrome. So far, only journalists and employees of the Baikonur complex can see her and many others. But soon everyone will be able to get to this place.
In the plans for the development of tourism in Baikonur, it is planned to build a complex for guests. However, it is not yet known where it will be erected. Thousands of tourists come here every year to watch spaceships travel to the stars.
Half a century ago, the world learned the name of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. For a long time, the details of the launch, the launch site and the names of the creators were kept secret. Today the city of Baikonur is known throughout the world.
All local residents know the history of the cosmodrome. But more accurately tell about it in the local museum. Galina Chernova left the teaching profession a few years ago and got a job as a tour guide.
“Our city is located on the right bank of the Syrdarya river,” she says, “in the 50s it was navigable and often overflowed, so there is even a dam along the embankment that has survived from those times. The city was planned to be built not only on the right bank, but also on the left one ”.
In the late 50s, there was a naked Kyzyl Kum desert, which in translation from the Kazakh language means “red sand”. In the heat, he heated up almost to a fiery red color. The Soviet leadership decided: the future gateway to space will be located here.
“The proximity to the equator provides additional rocket speed when flying into space. The surface is flat, there are no mountains, which is necessary for communication. 300 days of sunshine a year is also an important factor for visually seeing the rocket, ”said Galina Chernova.
Construction was carried out under the code name "Stadium". Nobody knew what would happen here. Even the place had to be renamed several times. At first it was the village of Zarya, then Leninsk. Later it received the status of a city, and in the 90s it was renamed Baikonur.
For a long time, passengers traveling along the southern branch of the Kazakh SSR railway did not realize that the path to one of the most secret objects of the Soviet Union begins from here.
As a child, everyone dreamed of becoming astronauts, going on a rocket into the unknown and gazing at the stars. Let it remain a dream, but today the museums of cosmonautics in Russia make it possible to feel like a bit of scientists and conquerors of the Universe.
The shuttle is launched in space with the help of two-solid-propellant rocket boosters and three proprietary cruise engines, which receive fuel from a huge external outboard tank, at the initial stage of the trajectory, the main thrust is created by detachable solid-propellant boosters . The shuttle is in orbit ...