Baikonur (also spelled Bajkonur, formely Leninsk) is a city situated in Kzyl-Orda oblast of Kazakhstan. Baikonur city is rented and administered by Russia. Baikonur city main purpose is to maintain the Baikonur cosmodrome. The city was officially named Baikonur with the help of first Russian President Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995.
Baikonur population is about 59,000 (2009) on the land area of 57 sq. km.
Baikonur phone code - +7 33622; postal code - 468320.
The railway station is located 2 km to the north of Baikonur on the territory of the settlement Tyuratam. Highway Aralsk - Zhosaly - Kyzylorda goes 5 km to the north of the city, it has the number M32 (Samara - Shymkent).
Baikonur city and the space-vehicles launching site are served by airport Krainiy (6 km to the west of Baikonur) and Yubileiny (former landing complex for “Buran” 40 km to the north-west of the city, on the territory of the space-vehicles launching site).
Baikonur is the city of Kazakhstan Republic but for the term of rent it temporally has the status of Russian Federation city.
According to the treaty the head of the city administration is appointed by common decision of Russian and Kazakhstan Presidents, Russia presents the candidate. Russian legislation is applied in Baikonur as well as Kazakh one for the citizens of Kazakhstan Republic.
At the City Museum of Baikonur cosmodrome history everyone can get in touch with the grandiose history of the first space port on Earth.
Baikonur city, Kazakhstan street
Baikonur city, Kazakhstan scenery
On February 12, 1955, it was decided to form the Scientific-research proving ground #5 of USSR Defense Ministry which was intended for rocket equipment testing. A considerable part of the desert between 2 district centers (Kazalinsky and Dzhusalami) of Kzyl-Ordinskaya oblast of Kazakhstan was allotted for the proving ground.
The construction work at the proving ground started in the second half of winter in
1955. June 2nd, 1955, is considered the official date of Baikonur foundation. On January 29th, 1958, the settlement which didn’t have any name and was unofficially called “Zarya” received the name Leninsky. The settlement was planned for about 5,000 people, but due to intensive growth of testing work on the proving ground the population was about 10,000 by the end of 1960.
On April 12, 1961, the whole world learned about the Kazakhstan steppes: it was here, from the Baikonur cosmodrome, that the spaceship “Vostok” with a cosmonaut on board was launched into space. Thus Yuri Gagarin, a citizen of the USSR became the first man ever to have stepped into the expanse of the universe. The proving ground received the name “Baikonur cosmodrome” for publications in the press.
In 1969 the settlement turned into a town and received the official name Leninsk. By the late 1970s the population of the city was 70,000. The city grew rapidly in 1980s due to development of the space program “Energy-Buran” which promoted large inflow of the specialists from all over USSR. By 1990 the population of the city (including people living in small towns located on the space-vehicles launching site) was 140,000.
After the collapse of USSR, 1991-1992s had been the hard times for the cosmodrome and the city. The number of space-vehicles launchings sharply decreased, a lot of officers and industry specialists together with their families preferred to leave the launching site for their homelands (for Russia, Ukraine etc.). The status of the launching site itself was not clear as it “remained” on the territory of sovereign Kazakhstan but Russia actually maintained Baikonur.
In 1994 Russian Federation signed the treaty with Kazakhstan, according to it Russia would maintain the launching ground and every year pay fees to Kazakhstan. The term of rent was determined as 20 years (in 2004 the term was prolonged till 2050). On December 20th, 1995, by Kazakhstan President’s decree the city of Leninsk was renamed into the city of Baikonur.
In the second half of 1990s the number of space launchings from Baikonur considerably grew and the outflow of specialists from the launching site stopped. The city was gradually restored and developed.
Today Baikonur city has several launching complexes. Russian spaceships, artificial Earth satellites, and interplanetary probes are sent aloft here.