Baikonur

Baikonur Cosmodrome

Baikonur cosmodrome is a large complex of rocket launches, it is the first and the biggest space center in the world. The spaceport is located in the desert steppe of Baikonur, about 200 km east of the Aral Sea and north of the river Syr Darya, it owns an area of 6717 square km.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian obtained much of the Soviet space program, however, the Baikonur launch facility lay on the territory of the newly independent state of Kazakhstan. The solution agreed in 1994 was that Russia would rent the entire Baikonur facility, including the town that supports the cosmodrome, from Kazakhstan. In 2005, Russia approved the agreement extending the agreement for which it pays 115 US dollars 2050. Following the completion of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East in 2017, some launches will increase gradually be relocated here from Baikonur. 

Baikonur cosmodrome was established in 1957 while the first development works were completed, and the first launch of the rocket R-7 took place. Throughout the next 30 years, the cosmodrome had been developing, where new launch pads for new rocket types, tool rooms for rocket construction, fuel stations, complexes for rocket control and tracking and other important infrastructure were established. 

Today, there are several launch pads, a huge aerodrome Yubileyniy, a museum of cosmonautics, assembly as well as the test facilities and control centers. The primary object of the Baikonur cosmodrome is a launchpad No.1 Gagarin’s Start. The first rocket, later the first man-made Earth spacecraft and of course the first manned launch with astronaut Yuriy Gagarin launched there. Accordingly, thus the launch pad is called after him. The launchpad has now sent more than 600 rockets to space. Launchpad No.31 is the second most essential one at the Baikonur cosmodrome. It replaces Gagarin’s Start and usually used for sending cargo ships. Like Gagarin’s Start, the safety area is also 1.4 km. 

Baikonur city

Baikonur is not only a cosmodrome but also a city built in the Kazakh steppe with the populations of more than seventy thousand people and most of whom have nothing to do with space. While rockets are being launched nearby, the town of Baikonur resembles footage from a post-apocalyptic movie. It seems that time stopped here somewhere in the 60s when Gagarin flew into space and the town left surrounded by a concrete fence. As the territory of the entire Baikonur complex, the city is leased by Russia, the head of its administration is appointed by a joint declared by the presidents of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. 

The town have two police, two registry offices, two courts and brothers living in the same apartment might having the citizens of different states. Prices in the town dominant in rubles, and though it is allowed to pay in Kazakh tenge, expect to get a change in rubles. The Russian MTS mobile-phone network is dominant in the town and the vehicle registration plates. 

The town is considered to be an administrative unit of the Russian Federation with a special status, which only three other cities Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sevastopol have. And the the stone Vladimir Lenin still stands in the central square, whose monuments you will meet traveling across Central Asia. The rent will expire in 2050, and what will happen with the complex is unknown. 

How to get to Baikonur

You can get the Baikonur only through checkpoints with local registration,  by obtaining permission, or through a hole in the fence. The last method is actively used, by camels. They enter through holes in the fence from the territory of Kazakhstan and freely walk along the central streets of the secret city. If you want to go into legally you need to get an official permission from the relevant Russian authorities, you can obtain the pass from the travel agencies specializing in tourist to the complex. 

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