Baikonur ( Kazakh Байқоңыр / Bayqoñır; Russian Байконур / Baikonur until 1995 Leninsk ) is a city in southern Kazakhstan, about 200 kilometers east of the Northern Aral Sea on the north bank of the river Syr Darya. Nationally known, the city is primarily for property situated in Baikonur, start from where since 1957 Soviet or Russian space missions. The city is leased by Russia since the end of 1994 and is under Russian administration.

20 km north of the city is the largest Russian spaceport, the Baikonur Cosmodrome (45 ° 55 ' 20 " N, 63 ° 18 ' 0" O45.92222222222263.3 ) ( kasach. Байқоңыр ғарыш айлағы / Baiqongyr gharysch ailaghy or Bayqoñır Garis aylağı; Russian Космодром Байконур / Baikonur Cosmodrome ). The city of Baikonur is a separate district ( Байқоңыр қаласы / Baiqongyr Qalasy ) within Kazakhstan.


In 1955, the Soviet Union near the small settlement Tjuratam the construction of a test site for its first intercontinental ballistic missiles. Tjuratam was for the purpose of quite conveniently located on the banks of the Syr Darya river and the railway line Moscow - Tashkent. It was founded on February 2, 1955. Among the significant designers of the space station included the Russian engineers Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, Nikolay Alexeyevich Piljugin and Vladimir Pavlovich Barmin.

Names and code names

The name of the test site was " research and test site # 5", short NIIP - fifth The name Baikonur got it to mislead the Western powers. The site Tjuratam subject on the one hand the strictest secrecy, on the other hand, the Soviet government wanted to boast of their successes and after Yuri Gagarin's space flight in 1961 in the public announcements also call a place of missile launches. So then a place was " Baikonur ", about 320 km northeast of the real site that had no relation to the space program, known as the location of the space station. Public designation of NIIP -5 was henceforth Baikonur Cosmodrome. The geographical coordinates of the "original" Baikonur are 47 ° 49 '30 " N, 66 ° 2' 40 " O47.82566.044444444444.

The settlement, which quickly developed around the spaceport, finally received after names like Sarja, Swesdograd, Tashkent -90 and Leninsky with the city charter in 1966 the name Leninsk. The train station is still Tjuratam.

On 20 December 1995 Leninsk was eventually renamed Baikonur. Official name of the Space Centre is now "5 State Versuchskosmodrom the Russian Federation ".


Driven by the Cold War, the cosmodrome was built very quickly. In particular, Khrushchev urged always new and impressive records in the prestigious race to space.

Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in space in 1957. Laika, the first living creature in space in 1957. Strelka and Belka, the first creatures that once again returned and healing 1960. Yury Gagarin, the first man in space in 1961. Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space in 1963 Lunokhod 1, the first remote-controlled lunar rover in 1970 Salyut 1, the first space station Mir in 1971, the first permanently manned space station 1986 -. .. they all took off from Baikonur.

But also the enormous time pressure led to numerous accidents. Thus, in the worst accident Baikonur the history of rocketry, the Nedelin disaster occurred on 24 October 1960. The explosion of an intercontinental ballistic missile of the type R -16 in spite of obvious defects of Moscow arranged launch preparations cost 126 people their lives, including Mitrofan Nedelin, chief of the Strategic Missile Forces. The Central Committee of the CPSU was then merely said in a brief note, Marshal Nedelin had perished in a plane crash. The disaster came in 1989 to the public, the official list of the victims was released only under President Yeltsin. The start preparations for the next R-16 missile has continued already on 4 January 1961.

As the first person from the West, the French President Charles de Gaulle visited 1966 Baikonur on June 20. The first NASA team were shown parts of the cosmodrome under the common Soyuz - Apollo - docking mission on 28 April 1975. In such visits, the Soviet Union sought to conceal the military character of the site. All military personnel who could get within sight of foreign visitors, the instruction to wear civilian clothes got.

Although Baikonur has been known primarily for manned space flights in the world, the main purpose of the establishment of initial lay on, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, in the test of fluid- driven long-range missiles.

Mid-1980s had the Forbidden City Leninsk according to official figures 100,000 people, 356 residential units, 9 schools, 31 kindergartens, 18 hotels, a private television station, several movie theaters, a stadium, a beverage factory and two concrete plants.

1991: Crisis

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Kazakhstan in 1991 overthrew Baikonur and Leninsk into a serious crisis. The most important by far Cosmodrome the Soviet Union was now on Kazakh territory. The launch sites on Russian territory were only of limited use to replace Baikonur. Although Kazakhstan and Russia agreed very early collaboration, how it should look like in practice, however, has been the subject of long negotiations. Anyway struck by the difficult economic situation of both countries, Baikonur threatened under the intricate legal collapse.

Salaries and pensions were not paid. Water and power supply broke down frequently, residents looted the facility, stole cars, tore cable from technical installations, in order to sell as valuable metal. In January 1992, the start of a supply ship for I was in danger because at the bottom revolted unpaid military employees. About 40 % of the population left the area.

According to official figures left the last 1993 nuclear warheads Baikonur.

On 28 March 1994 Russia finally leased for 115 million dollars annually, the terrain of Kazakhstan. The contract duration was initially 20 years, but was extended until 2050 on January 9, 2004. In December 1994, the final details were agreed and asked the city Leninsk under Russian administration.

1995: Servant of Two Masters

On January 4, 1995, appointed by the President of Kazakhstan and Russia Russian city administration began her work in the Kazakh city. On the site was from now on both Russian and Kazakh law, which, for example, that caused infants with Russian nationality in the school something to eat, children are not with Kazakh nationality, however. The situation Baikonurs is historically and legally unprecedented. " Moreover ," said the mayor Baikonurs 2002, " are still many lawyers write their theses. "

In 1996, 761 billion rubles for Baikonur provided in the budget of the Russian Federation, of which only 296 billion due to financial problems reached the city.

Despite the difficulties, it was in Baikonur slightly upwards. With the increase of commercial contracts and international cooperation such as the International Space Station ISS money again flowed into the city. The possibility of granting tax relief led to the apparent transfer of the headquarters of many major Russian companies, including Yukos and Lukoil, to Baikonur. The large tax losses prompted Russia, in May 2002 to replace the mayor and another Russian, the ex-governor of Leningrad Oblast Aleksei Malkow to entrust the city administration.

Baikonur had about 70,000 inhabitants in 2002, 70% of Kazakhs.

The Baikonur

Baikonur launch site is the largest in the world. According to official figures, it extends 2004 on an area of ​​6,717 square kilometers, 75 kilometers from north to south and 90 kilometers from west to east (see links). There are also the landing areas.

To ground infrastructure includes nine grid complexes with 15 launchers, 4 launch facilities for the exploration Intercontinental long-range missiles, 11 assembly and test complexes, two gas stations, two airports, a measuring complex, a 600 -megawatt thermal power plant, 470 kilometers of rail tracks, 1281 km roads and 6610 km electrical cables.

70 % of all Russian launches of cosmic missiles are held in the Kazakh Baikonur. Other launch sites (also for satellite missile, but not for manned missions ) are Kapustin Yar, Plesetsk, the Baikonur Jasny and Svobodny in Russia.

With the disintegration of the USSR the possession went to Kazakhstan, Russia pays since the equivalent of about 200 million euros a year in rent to use the site further. With the Vostochny Cosmodrome therefore should be a new spaceport in the Amur region.