Baikonur cosmodrome origin of name
Baikonur or Bajkonur was originally a mining town and cosmodrome name Baikonur was chosen to confuse the West because the actual location of the cosmodrome was about 315 km northeast from Baikonur in Dzhezkazgan desert.
Baikonur cosmodrome scenery
Baikonur cosmodrome Soviet era history
June 2, 1955 is the birthday of Baikonur cosmodrome. The first purpose of Baikonur cosmodrome was to be a long-range missile center. Some years later Baikonur cosmodrome became space flight center. Leninsk city was built near Baikonur cosmodrome to support its personnel with apartments, hospital and school.
Baikonur cosmodrome is famous due to a numerous historical outer space flights. First artificial satellite was launched on October 4, 1957 from Baikonur cosmodrome and was named “Sputnik 1”.
Yuri Gagarin was the first man who performed orbital flight in 1961, first woman in space - Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Astronauts from different countries (Brazil, Germany, France etc.) started their space journeys from Baikonur cosmodrome.
Baikonur cosmodrome today
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and from that moment Russian space program is being operated from Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Leninsk (supporting city) was renamed to Baikonur in 1995.
On June 8, 2005 an agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan was ratified allowing Russia to use Baikonur cosmodrome until 2050. The rent price (about 115 million USD per year) is the source of a never-ending dispute between Russia and Kazakhstan.
As a result Russia is upgrading its own Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk oblast as a reserve cosmodrome.