On February 12, 1955 Council of Ministers of the USSR took decision No.292-181
"A new testing area for the Ministry of Defense of the USSR" which initiated construction
of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Originally, it was called scientific testing area No.5.
Construction operations on object "Taiga" (called so because of security
considerations) began as early as in January, 1955. House-building of the settlement nearby
began in May, 1955. The village was renamed many times depending on political situation:
in different years it was called "Tashkent-90", "Tiura-Tam", "Zaria" (Outset),
"Zvezdograd" (Star town), "Leninsk", and finally Baikonur, the name it has today.
The main goals of the construction works were starting positions for International
Ballistic Missiles (IBM) and technical installations of the space centre. In two years, on
May 15, 1957 the first R-7 IBM constructed by S.P.Koroliov was launched followed by the
first artificial satellite of the Earth in October of the same year.
It was here that the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, was launched into space
in April, 1961. In all, there have been sent up from here 96 national and 29 foreign
astronauts. Now the piloted flights are being realized toward the International Space
First flights of "Vostok" spaceships having been completed, there have been tested
some 20 new carrier-rocket types at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, among them "Voshode"
(Sunrise), "Molnia" (Lightning),
"Soyuz", "Tsiklone" (Cyclone), "Protone", "N-1", "Zenith", "Energia"(Energy)-"Buran"
(Snowstorm), "Rokote" (Roar), as well as their modifications. They carried "Cosmos" and
"Meteor" vehicles, numerous communication, navigation and military satellites, ISS into
space. Baikonur Cosmodrome was a site of a great IBM testing program. In all, there have
carrier rocket launching tests (from these more than 1050 successful ones), 1187 IBM and
medium-range missile starts. About 40 basic rocket types and more than 80 their
modifications have been tested at the Baikonur area.
Under terms of an agreement reached by Russia and Kazakhstan on March 28, 1994
the Baikonur Cosmodrome was leased back to Russia on a 20-year lease.
Currently up to 75% national space vehicle launchings are realized at the
Baikonur Cosmodrome, 95% of them starting to geostationary and solar-synchronous
orbits. It is there that all the piloted program of Russia is under way now.
In 2002 more than 20 carrier rocket launchings are supposed to be realized from
the Baikonur Cosmodrome (among them, "Protone-K", "Protone-M", "Soyuz-U",
"Soyuz-FG" as well as a conversion "Dnepr") according to Russian Federal Space
Program, for the sake of the Ministry of Defense, and in the context of International
Moscow, February 12, 2002. Sergei Dereviashkin,Press-cutting service of the Space Forces
Space News from Alexander Zhelezniakov