Tue, 19 Sep 2000 09:11:16 +0200
>From September 5 - 11, 2000 I had the possibility to visit the Baikonur
Cosmodrome with a group of 9 men from Germany. We were all "space-enthusiasts"
like many people in these list, but we got a programme like professionals.
The tour was organized by Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Aerospace Agency, and
Kardin Trading, a special tour service bureau under contract of Rosaviakosmos.
We used the regulare airplane to Baikonur and back to Moscow, which flies twice
a week, on Monday and Tuesday.
We stayed at "Baikonur" hotel, in the direct neighbourhood of Starsemīs
western-style "Sputnik" hotel."Baikonur" is used by high officials and has quite
comfortable rooms with shower and all, what you need, including phone, air
condition, TV. The meals were Russian ( very, very calorie-rich, but savoury)and
the Russian beer is quite good.
The tour was well prepared and perfectly organized by Rosaviakosmos and Kardin
- the two Soyuz sites ( No. 1,2,31) including assembly building
(MIK-40) at site 31 with one disassembled Soyuz launch vehicle inside and
launch control bunker at site No.1 and the museum at site No.2
- the site No.51 for escape tower testing
- the site 112 (assembly building Energia) with three huge
Energias inside including the originally Buran orbiter, the Starsem clean rooms
at site 112 and the large crawler-erectors for Energia rockets
- the Buran mockup outside assembly building site 254
- the Zenit assembly building (site No.42) with two Zenits inside (one flight
ready, one training model)
- the Zenit launch pad site No.45 including the one, which was destroyed in 1990
and the launch control bunker
- the place of Baikonurīs greatest tragedy (the Nedelin disaster on October,
24,1960) with a monument for the victims of these accident
- the site No.113 with some residuals of N1 moon rockets (part of tanks if
- one destroyed FOBS silo (site No. unknown)
- the Proton site including the impressive reconstructed building 92-50 with
Proton-M inside and large clean-rooms for payload preparations
- Proton launch pad PU-39 or 200L including a visit on the top of the service
tower by elevator and a view in the launch control bunker
- the site No. 90 for launching Tsyklon-2 boosters ( only outside )
- Energia test stand and launch pad (site No.250) including the fuel storage
bunkers and a view from the top of the service tower ( height 70 metric meters,
- airport Yubileiniy , the Buran landing site
- at Baikonur town: hotel "Cosmonaut", the quarter "Zero" for the high military
man including the famous gazebo at Syr-Darya river, the International Space
School "Chelomei" with one VA capsule (Almaz) inside. We were allowed to take
place inside the capsule. It is quite tight and I decided, that I am not suited
to become a cosmonaut/astronaut.
All in all, the saw 90 percent of the civil part of the Baikonur cosmodrome.
It is not allowed to visit and photograph military related objects, but this did
not reduce our access to the facilities significantly.
Baikonur is an interesting town, full a young people and beautiful woman ( this
is no exaggeration). It is absolutely secure, because it is a closed town and it
is not easy to penetrate it without permission. The people are very kind, you
can stop every time a car and the driver will bring you to every place in the
town, where you want, for 10 roubles. The central market is impressive, with
strong resemblance to a orientalic Bazar. There are cafeīs, restaurants,
discoīs a shops for everything. We mostly liked the "Titanic", an open-air pub
at Syr-Darya river.
The weather was fine, about 35 degress celsius, sunshine, no cloudes, dry, with
persisent breeze, so you did not feel the heat. But, you must drinking water the
whole day, of course.
We paid 1382 US dollars each person in three rates ( the last one, AFTER
successful closing of our trip) to Kardin Trading. They provided us with the
necessary invitiation from the Russian Foreign Ministry ( you cannot use a
tourist visa !), the visa for Kazakhstan, the flight tickets
Moscow-Baikonur-Moscow, the permission for Baikonur town and the cosmodrome, the
permissions for the different sites at the cosmodrome, the accomodation at
Baikonur, the vehicles for transport, three meals each day and the permission
for photos and videos of the different sites (sometimes we had difficulties, as
the security said "No".)
Add to this the payment for flight ticket to Russia (Moscow) from your country,
the visa service of the Russian consulate in your country and the payment for
transfers from one airport to another at Moscow and, one night stay at Moscow,
because it is difficult to arrive at Moscow and depart to Baikonur the same day.
Kardin Trading will provide you with these services, too, but we decided to
organize this ourshelf with the help of friends at Moscow.
If you interested in making a trip to Baikonur or other Russian space faciliies,
do not hesitate, to contact Kardin Trading via:
Mr. Sergey Abramov
If there any questions left, please contact me, and I am ready to answer it.
Have a nice stay at Russia and Kazakhstan ! It is really great !
Kind regards to all FPSpacers,