Site news

Site map

Testimonials

About this site

About the author

Mailbox


ADVERTISE


SPONSOR


 

Although Baikonur has always been known around the world as the launch site of Russia's space missions, from its outset in 1955 and until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the primary purpose of this center was to test liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. The official (and secret) name of the center was State Test Range No. 5 or 5 GIK (GIK-5). It remained under control of the Soviet and Russian Ministry of Defense until the second half of the 1990s, when the Russian civilian space agency and its industrial contractors started taking over individual facilities.

In mid-2006, head of Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov said that last Russian military personnel would leave Baikonur for Plesetsk by the end of 2007. In reality, the process was much slower and much more painful for rank-and-file members of the military, who often faced numerous problems when repatriating from Kazakhstan to Russia, especially in obtaining housing. Nevertheless, on April 30, 2008, in one of his last moves as president, Vladimir Putin signed a decree disbanding GIK-5. Eight months later, on Dec. 16, a new Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, signed a decree on the consolidation of Baikonur's infrastructure. It resulted in the formation of the Yuzhny ("southern") space center led by Sergei Smirnov and comprising former assets and workforce of various subcontractors, which served the facility, including KB Motor, KBOM, KBTM, KBTKhM, NPF Kosmotrans and OKB Vympel. The consolidation promised to reduce unnecessary duplication and reduce the cost of operating the facility. In turn, Roskosmos, announced a formation of a special directorate responsible for running Baikonur.

In mid-2008, Russian space officials said that between 2005 and 2008, a total of 30 military units with 2,000 members of military personnel had been disbanded, as the center's facilities were transferred to the Russian space agency, Roskosmos. At the beginning of December 2008, Russian military was destroying classified hardware and obsolete pyrotechnic equipment in the last acts of the demilitarization of the center, Interfax news agency reported. As of Jan. 1, 2009, the only military installations remaining in Baikonur would be an air squadron based at the Krainy airfield and a directorate responsible for R-36M UTTKh and UR-100NU missiles.

Relations with Kazakhstan

As early as July 2, 2005, Russia and Kazakhstan reached an agreement for the rent of Baikonur by the Russian Federation. Russia agreed to pay $115 million for the rent of the space center, several more million dollars were required per year for the maintenance and development of the facility. Despite existence of this document, five years later, Russian space officials still complained about various stumbling blocks in the usage of Baikonur for the goals of the Russian space program. (381) In September 2007, a crash of the Proton rocket in Karaganda region resulted in a two-month ban on the missions of the Russian workhore launcher and in a $61 million compensation bill from the Kazakhstan. Only on May 7, 2010, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev ratified an agreement with Russia on joint operation of Baikonur. As many as 50 interim agreements, covering various aspects of Russian-Kazakh cooperation on Baikonur, had been required in between. (401)

On Oct. 7, 2011, the head of the Russian space agency Vladimir Popovkin told the Russian Duma (parliament) that Kazakhstan lifted a ban on launches of Russian ballistic missiles from Baikonur, clearing the way to resumptions of such missions as early as November 2011. However in the Spring of 2012, another legal hurdle postponed the launch of the Soyuz-2 rocket with the Metop-2 satellite, followed by a delay of the Kanopus satellite. All these launches heading north would need a new drop zone in the populated northwest area of Kazakhstan in order to reach polar orbit. Moscow now hoped to get yet another long-term permission of the Kazakh government to secure a permanent new drop zone in the northwest of the republic. However, Kazakhstan found the draft of the agreement delivered by Russia on May 25 drastically different from the version of the document that was agreed at the end of 2011. The problem escalated to become one of the topics at the Russian-Kazakh summit on June 7, 2012. In the wake of the meeting between Putin and Nazarbaev, official media in both countries declared a resolution of the problem to mutual satisfaction. Russia agreed to pay $460 thousand per year for the rent of a new drop zone in the Aktubinsk and Kustanai regions -- a real bargain comparing to the original asking price of $2 million. However, according to industry sources, a signing of a formal agreement on the issue had to be left until the meeting of prime-ministers Medvedev and Masimov in St. Petersburg on June 15.

At the time, Russian officials also complained that Kazakhstan was yet to legally recognize Russian investments into the local infrastructure despite more than a billion dollars spent by the Kremlin for the task. The Russian side also lacked a practical legal mechanism to remove unused infrastructure from the official list of rented facilities, leading to extra maintenance and security expenses.

Still, in 2012, the Russian government planned to spend 8.2 billion rubles until November 2015 for the upgrades of the infrastructure at Baikonur. The plan reportedly included the construction of the new vehicle assembly building.

Political and financial issues around Baikonur were prompting Russia to move slowly but surely with its plans to build an alternative site in the Far East. Facing possible end of Russian presence in Baikonur, the Kazakh government looked for potential future users of the center, which reportedly included ESA and Israel. (564) These ideas were probably relied on the use of the Ukrainian Zenit rocket.

Baikonur facilities

According to the official data (116) released at the beginning of the 1990s, Baikonur Cosmodrome had 11 assembly buildings and nine launch complexes with 15 launch pads for space boosters. The cosmodrome also featured:

  • An oxygen and nitrogen plant, capable of producing 300 tons of cryogenic propellants a day
  • 3 fueling and neitralization facilities (only one was active in mid-1990s and two functioned by 2010, while the third at Site 91 was undergoing final refurbishment)
  • A power station
  • 600 energy-converting stations
  • 92 communication sites
  • 2 airports
  • 470 kilometers of railways
  • 1,281 kilometers of automobile roads
  • 6,610 kilometers of communication lines
  • 360 kilometers of pipelines
  • 1,240 kilometers of waterlines
  • 430 kilometers of sewer lines

The entire center covered 6,717 square kilometers and extended 75 kilometers from north to south and 90 kilometers from east to west. The facility consumed 600 million kilowatt/hour of electric power annually. By 2010, five ground control stations supported launches from Baikonur. By the end of 2011, Kazakh government estimated value of Baikonur's infrastructure at 467 billion tenge ($3.4 billion). (541)

Baikonur's regions

A test range in Baikonur is traditionally subdivided into three regions, each led by a major player in the Soviet rocketry: Sergei Korolev, Mikhail Yangel and Vladimir Chelomei:

Central region (Korolev area)

A very first launch complex of the space center was built for the R-7 ICBM, developed at Korolev's OKB-1 design bureau. When Baikonur's test facilities started sprawling east and west from the original launch complex, this region became known as Korolev's area. After a relatively short life as a test complex, the R-7 facilities located in the central region of the range were converted into space launch sites. However, before OKB-1 completely switched to the development of space technology, a Korolev-designed R-9 ICBM was tested at Site 51, also located in the central region. The 1st Test Directorate based in the central region was responsible for processing of both -- the R-7 and R-9 rockets. After death of its first chief, Evgeni Ostashev, the 1st Directorate was led by Anatoli Kirillov. After Kirillov's promotion in 1967, his former deputy Vladimir Patrushev became the chief of the directorate. In his turn, Patrushev was replaced by his deputy, Vladimir Bululukov in 1975. (78) The Korolev area grew enormously in 1960s and 1970s, when manned lunar program and later Energia-Buran programs were underway.

Right flank (Yangel area)

The eastern section of Baikonur Cosmodrome, or so-called "right flank," was also known as "Yangel area." Since 1960, several generations of ballistic missiles and space launchers developed by Mikhail Yangel's design bureau had been tested here. Yangel's original ICBM -- R-16 -- was followed by different versions of R-36, MR-UR-100, R-36M and R-36M2 ballistic missiles. Initial tests of the Cosmos-1 booster and all launches of the Zenit-2 rocket were also conducted from the launch pads on the "right flank" of Baikonur.

Left flank (Chelomei area)

The west side of Baikonur Cosmodrome, or so-called "left flank," also known as "Chelomei area." Since beginning of the 1960s, several generations of ballistic missiles and space launchers developed by Vladimir Chelomei's OKB-52 design bureau had been tested here: including UR-200 and several generations of UR-100 ICBM. The launch pads and processing facilities for OKB-52-designed Proton rocket were also located on the left flank. The 4th Test Directorate of the range was responsible for the processing of the Proton rocket.


Facilities of NIIP-5/GIK-5 (Baikonur Cosmodrome):

Traditionally for test sites around the world, various facilities in Baikonur were designated with numbers. These numbers were used in conjunction with word "ploshadka" which in Russian can have two meanings depending on the context: the construction site or a launch pad. Such double meaning often created confusion upon translation into English. Sometimes numbers assigned to "ploshadkas" would be interpreted as launch pad numbers, which is incorrect. The launch pads in Baikonur are usually identified as "puskovaya ustanovka" (or launching device) -- which have their own numbering system. Finally, buildings and technical facilities located within "ploshadkas" have their own designations. This web site uses term Site or Facility to translate word "ploshadka":

Site
Facility designation
Construction period
Status
Description
0
 
1955
Construction organizations headquarters (FKTs-1) and residential areas
 
1955
Active
Launch complex (PU-1, later renamed PU-5) for R-7 ICBM and R-7-based launchers: Sputnik, Vostok and currently Soyuz and Soyuz-U and U2 boosters
 
1955
Active
Processing facilities for R-7-based launchers and their payloads, assembly buildings MIK-2 and 2A
3
 
1955
Active
Oxygen/nitrogen plant (V/Ch 11589), propellant storage area, soldier barracks, storage facilities
4
 
1955?
?
5
 
1955?
Radio transmission center (77)
6
 
1955?
?
7
 
1955?
?
8
 
1955?
?
9
 
1955
Dugouts and tent camps of the original NIIP-5 construction teams (51)
 
1955
Active
Main residential area (identified in different periods of time as Zarya, Leninskiy, Leninsk, Zvezdograd, Baikonur)
11
 
?
?
12
 
?
?
13
 
?
Burial site (?) (111)
14
 
?
?
15
 
1955
Active
Krainy airfield; Undergoing upgrades since 2009.
16
 
?
?
17
 
1955
VIP cottages, Baikonur, Cosmonaut, Sputnik hotels, FKTs headquarters
18
 
1955
Active
Original IP-1 measurement and tracking station, viewing site for Area 1 launches; pump station
19
 
?
?
20
 
?
?
21
 
?
Active
IP-4, Vega tracking station
22
 
?
?
23
 
?
Active
IP-5, The Saturn tracking and control station; Svyaznik antenna to support the Molniya comsats. The Spektr-Iks telemetry complex deployed in 2011 for Phobos-Grunt project;
24
 
?
?
25
 
?
?
26
 
?
?
27
 
?
?
28
 
?
?
29
 
?
?
30
 
?
?
 
1958
Active
The second launch (PU-2) and processing complex for R-7 ICBM, their warheads and R-7-based launchers and their payloads (51) MIK-40 and service and lab building 124 (67) 11G112 fueling station
32
 
1958
Residential area for the personnel servicing Area 31; Assembly buildings MIK-32 and MIK-32GCh (51)
33
 
?
?
34
 
?
?
35
 
?
?
36
 
?
?
37
 
1950s
Repair and maintenance site; Orbital warhead assembly and storage area (67 8. 2000 p. 71)
38
 
1958
The processing (MIK-38) and control area for R-16 ICBM; Antiaircraft defense site (51)
39
 
?
?
40
 
?
?
41
 
1959
Two launch pads for R-16 ICBM (PU-3, 4) (51); The complex considered for R-26 ICBM testing, by 1964, one pad refurbished for Cosmos-1 and -3 launch vehicle.
42
 
1959
The processing building (MIK-42 completed in Sept. 1960) for R-16 ICBM (51)
43
 
1959
The residential area for R-16 personnel; IP-1B ground control station (later renamed IP-2); storage (51)
44
 
?
Active
Original site of the IP-2 control station. Operated by NPO IT from July 1, 2002.
45
 
1976?
Active
Two-pad launch complex for Zenit booster. (76)
46
 
?
?
47
 
?
?
48
 
?
?
49
 
?
?
50
 
?
?
51
 
1959
A single launch pad (PU-5) for R-9 ICBM (51) and GR-1 orbital ICBM (74)
52
 
1959
A single radio-control station (RUP) for R-9 test launches one kilometer from Area 51(51)
53
 
1959
Radio-control station and antenna field (111); Buildings for Signal and Zarya stations to support manned space flight (51)
54
 
?
?
55
 
?
?
56
 
?
?
57
 
?
?
58
 
?
?
59
 
?
?
60
 
1960-1961
Sheksna silo complex (Object 310) for R-16 ICBM with three launch silos (PU-6, 7, 8) (51 p. 184) 30 kilometers east of Area 41 (51)
61
 
?
?
62
 
?
?
63
 
?
?
64
 
?
?
65
 
?
?
66
 
?
?
67
 
1962
Two-pad surface complex 8P867 for the R-36 (8K67) ICBM, then for Tsyklon-2 launch vehicle (PU-21, 22). Dismantled (76)
68
 
?
Radio-control station RUP (74)
69
 
?
Two-pad silo complex for Tsyklon-2 launch vehicle. Destroyed (76)
70
 
?
Desna-V silo facility for the R-9 ICBM.
71
 
?
Residential area (67 8. 2000 p. 71)
72
 
?
?
73
 
?
?
74
 
?
?
75
 
~1961
Desna-N experimental surface complex for R-9 ICBM served by Unit (v/ch 54112); (51)
76
 
?
?
77
 
?
?
78
 
?
?
79
 
?
?
80
 
1960
Three-silo complex for R-16 ICBM, in 1964 rebuilt for comparative testing of R-16U, UR-200 and R-36
81
 
1962
Active
Two-pad (PU-23 (left) and 24 (right)) launch complex for Proton launch vehicle (76)
82
 
?
Back up command post
83
 
?
?
84
 
?
?
85
 
?
?
86
 
?
?
87
 
?
?
88
 
?
?
89
 
?
?
90
334B
1962?
Two-pad surface launch complex for UR-200 ICBM (74); modified for Tsyklon-2 launch vehicle (76)
90
334B
1963-
Originally built for UR-200 ICBM (74); modified for Tsyklon-2 (76)
90-5
333
?
Processing area for 11K69 (Tsyklon-2) and IS anti-satellites
90-275
333
?
Storage for 11K69 (Tsyklon-2) rockets
90T
333
?
Pump stations
91
333
Built in 1965
11G11 pumping and fueling station. In the post-Soviet period inactive until 2010.
91A
333
Built in 1976
Reactivated in November 2011
11G141 pumping and fueling station for Proton's payloads and upper stage. Deactivated in 1992.
91C
 
1980s?
The vacuum chamber for the Skif spacecraft. Abandoned before completion?
92
 
?
Processing area, boiler station, warehouses, administration and military support facilities
92-1
 
Built in 1964
Processing area for the Proton rocket
92-2
 
?
Processing area for the US-A/B spacecraft
92-2B
 
?
Processing area for the US-KS spacecraft
92-50
 
?
Processing complex for multiple spacecraft
93
 
From 1964
Pyrotechnic position (67)
94
 
Active?
Processing area for the Rockot launch vehicle
94A
 
Active?
Processing and storage area for radioactive power sources of the US-A spacecraft.
95
 
1960
Residential area (Proton city)
96
 
?
?
97
 
1962
Active
The IP-3 ground control station. (67) Operated by NPO IT since March 2006.
98
 
?
?
99
 
?
?
100
 
?
?
101
422; later 488
Sept. 1970-Nov. 1972

1975-1977: refurbished for R-36M UTTKh;

Aug. 1983-Oct. 1985: refurbished for R-36M-2;

blown up in July 1988

Silo facility for:
R-36M, (around 10 launches from Feb. 21, 1973 to Feb. 18, 1976);
R-36M UTTKh, (five launches from May 12, 1978 to Nov. 23, 1979);
R-36M-2 ICBMs (a failed launch on March 21, 1986) (168)
102
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74) Experimental silo 15P718M; Destroyed by explosion in the summer of 1996;
103
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
104
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
105
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
106
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
107
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
108
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
109
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74) From April 21, 1999, is used for the launches of the Dnepr rocket.
 
?
Two-pad launch complex 11P825 for N-1 moon rocket; refurbished for Energia super-heavy booster (76)
111
 
?
The command post for R-36 ICBM (74)
 
?
The processing facility 11P591 for N-1 moon rocket: refurbished for Energia super-heavy booster; pressurization station, pyrotechnic position, dynamic test stand, assembly and fueling station 11P593, fueling and neutralization station 11G131 (67); 3S station for the L1/L3 project at Site 112 operational from the end of 1967.
113
 
?
Residential area for N-1/L-3 and Energia personnel
114
 
?
?
115
 
?
?
116
 
?
?
117
 
?
?
118
 
?
N-1/Energia residential and storage area
119
 
?
N-1/Energia residential and storage area
120
 
?
?
121
 
?
?
123
 
?
?
124
 
?
?
125
 
?
?
126
 
?
?
127
 
?
?
128
 
?
?
129
 
?
?
130
 
?
?
131
 
?
UR-100/Rockot launch silo (70)
132
 
?
?
133
 
?
?
134
 
?
?
135
 
?
?
136
 
?
?
137
 
?
?
138
 
?
?
139
 
?
?
140
 
?
A single silo pad for R-36 ICBM. The first launch on July 13, 1965 (74)
141
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
142
 
?
OS-type silo for R-36 ICBM (74)
143
 
?
?
144
 
?
?
145
 
?
?
146
 
?
?
147
 
?
?
148
 
?
?
149
 
?
?
150
 
?
?
151
 
?
?
152
 
?
?
153
 
?
?
154
 
?
?
155
 
?
?
156
 
?
?
157
 
?
?
158
 
?
?
159
 
?
?
160
 
1965
Silo and command post for testing of R-36-O orbital ICBM (74), (67)
161
 
1965
Silo and command post for R-36-O orbital ICBM (67)
162
 
1965
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
163
 
1967
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
164
 
1967
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
165
 
1967
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
166
 
?
?
167
 
?
?
168
 
?
?
169
 
?
?
170
 
?
?
171
 
?
?
172
 
?
?
173
 
?
?
174
 
?
?
175
 
?
UR-100/Rockot launch silo (67)
176
 
?
?
177
 
?
?
178
 
?
?
179
 
?
?
180
 
?
?
181
 
?
?
182
 
?
UR-100/Rockot launch silo (70)
183
 
?
?
184
 
?
?
185
 
?
?
186
 
?
?
187
 
?
?
188
 
?
?
189
 
?
?
190
 
?
?
191
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67) and the command post (67)
192
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
193
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
194
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
195
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
196
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
197
 
?
?
198
 
?
?
199
 
?
?
200
 
?
Two-pad launch complex for Proton heavy booster (PU-39 and PU-40 mothballed at the end of the 1990s) (76)
201
 
?
?
202
 
?
?
203
 
?
?
204
 
?
?
205
 
?
?
206
 
?
?
207
 
?
?
208
 
?
?
209
 
?
?
210
 
?
?
211
 
?
?
212
 
?
?
213
 
?
?
214
 
?
?
215
 
?
?
216
 
?
?
217
 
?
?
218
 
?
?
219
 
?
?
220
 
?
?
221
 
?
?
222
 
?
?
223
 
?
?
224
 
?
?
225
 
?
?
226
 
?
?
227
 
?
?
228
 
?
?
229
 
?
?
230
 
?
?
231
 
?
?
232
 
?
?
233
 
?
?
234
 
?
?
235
 
?
?
236
 
?
?
237
 
?
?
238
 
?
?
239
 
?
?
240
 
?
?
241
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
242
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
243
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
244
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
245
 
?
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
246
 
1968
Silo for R-36-O missile (67)
247
 
?
?
248
 
?
?
249
 
?
?
 
1970s
Versatile test-firing stand/launch pad for Energia super-heavy booster UKSS 17P31 (76)
 
?
Yubileiniy airfield, Buran orbiter landing facility 11P72
252
 
?
?
253
 
?
?
 
?
Processing area 11P592 for Buran orbiter, refurbished for processing of ISS modules, Soyuz and Progress spacecraft

Submit this story to:
digg Digg it! delicious del.icio.us fark Fark! slashdot Slashdot

Page author: Anatoly Zak; Last update: April 7, 2013

All rights reserved