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Operator: Russia. Country: Kazakstan. Latitude: 45.63 N. Longitude: 63.26 E. Minimum Inclination: 49.0 degrees. Maximum Inclination: 99.0 degrees.

Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur.

Syr Darya RiverSyr Darya River - Syr Darya River, south of Baikonur

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The Baikonur cosmodrome extends for 85 km from North to South, and from 125 km from East to West, a territory as great as Moldova. Aside from dozens of launch pads it includes five tracking-control centres, 9 tracking stations, and a 1500 km rocket test range.

Leninsk (Site 10), located on the Syr Darya River along the main train line, was the main living area of the cosmodrome. It peak population was from 120,000 to 150,000. The traditional names for the areas of the cosmodrome were named as looking north from Leninsk: 'Left flank'; 'Right flank'; and 'Centre'.

The '9th Centre' - consisted of the town of Leninsk its living and cultural centres , Krainiy Airport, Moscow Aviation Institute's S Ordzhonikidze School, and the television centre. The administrative centre for the cosmodrome was in the town itself.

LeninskLeninsk - Lenin statue in main square of Leninsk

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The 'Left Flank' is located 70 km northwest of Leninsk. It was also known as the 'Chelomei arm' since it was mainly occupied by the launch pads, assembly buldings, and housing for his design bureau. It includes the launch pads for the Tsiklon-2 and Proton rockets, and a 10,000 population living area. Project work began in 1970, with construction starting in 1972, on a second Launch Complex LC-200 for the Proton and a new MIK-KA for spacecraft integration. The first pad was completed in 1977, the second in 1978, and the MIK-KA was first used in 1981. These facilities supported the military's second and third generation Proton-launched systems.

The 'Centre' or 'Korolev' area included facilities for the projects of Korole'v OKB-1. It includes the R-7/Vostoi/Soyuz 'Gagarin' launch pad (the first built at the cosmodrome) and the massive N-1 moon program facilities (later converted to use in the Energia-Buran program). It is located 30 km north of Leninsk. It consists of the First and Second Centres with the Gagarin pad, MIK (spacecraft/Soyuz assembly building), hotel, guest cottages, museum, and the cottages occupied by Gagarin and Korolev (now museums). Other facilities include the N-1/Energia launch complexes, including LC-110 (two launch pads), the single TK combination pad-test stand developed for launch and static test of the Energia rocket, and the cryogenics centre with 12 m diameter tanks for LOX, LH2, and gaseous N2 and He (400 atmosphere storage). The TK is 40 km from Leninsk and 5 km from LC 110.

Tyuratam aborigineTyuratam aborigine - First inhabitants of Baikonur area - reconstruction from skeletal remains by famous Soviet 'face finder' Gerasimov.

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Buran-Energia facilities at the center include the MKS, with 10,000 m2, 200 technical and 50 technological areas; the N-1/Energia assembly building MIK, which is 225-240 m long x 121-190 m wide, 30-47 m high; the Buran landing field 4500 m long x 84 m wide, located 12 km norhtwest of LC1; and a city for 20,000 people, built for the N-1 program and later used again for Energia-Buran.

The 'Right Flank' or 'Yangel Arm' included facilities primarily for products of Yangel's design bureau. It was located 50 km from Leninsk. It includes a second R-7 pad, used as a backup pad for manned and planetary launches. 10 km south of this is the Zenit pad. This included two launch pads, a cryogenics centre, and fifty technological systems. The pad was capable of automatic launch of Zenit and was rated for the manned launches that were planned using the Zenit vehicle.

Energia launch padEnergia launch pad - Energia launch complex

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Chronology of Major Events

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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .