Baikonur

Baikonur is a city in the southwest region of Kazakhstan, sitting on the right bank of the mighty Syr Darya River in the midst of the vast Kazakh steppe. Originally named Leninsk, it was built to house the workers servicing the Baikonur Cosmodrome on which it relies entirely for its economic stability. Baikonur is a city of political and geographical note as it is rented from Kazakhstan by the Russian government.

The original Kazakh mining town called Baikonur lies a few hundred miles north; the new city was named Baikonur to maintain the secrecy of the Cosmodrome. Built by the Soviet Government in 1950s, this was the first space launch facility in the world and remain the largest to date. One of the most expensive projects the Soviet Union took on, the Russian Federal Space Agency will share the lease of the facility with the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces until 2050. The city and the Cosmodrome were used as the location and set for the 2011 movie, Baikonur.

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Baikonur Cosmodrome

The largest space launch facility in the world, the Cosmodrome is a busy hub and many commercial, military and scientific missions are launched every year. The launch pad ‘Gagarin’s Start’ is famously the site from which Vostok 1 and Sputnik 1 were launched.

Baikonur Museum

The Cosmodrome’s small and fascinating museum is located on-site. It includes two well-preserved cottages that were once home to Sergey Korolev and Yuri Gagarin. Hugely popular with space enthusiasts, the museum features a number of aerospace artefacts.

Railway

Baikonur’s on-site railway within the cosmodrome is the largest industrial railway of its kind in the world. It connects every part of the launch sites and also joins with Kazakhstan’s public railway at Tyuratam, a main station on the line between Moscow and Tashkent that predates the Baikonur site.

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