From the foundation of a missile test range in Tyuratam in 1955, extensive support infrastructure have grown along with its launch pads, silos and assembly buildings. Communication hubs, propellant production and storage facilities, power and water supply stations, various repair shops served the cosmodrome for decades.
Several miles after the main road of the cosmodrome leaves the residential area and heads into the steppe, a primodial landscape of the grasslands is interrupted by a sprawling industrial complex. This is a propellant-producing plant, known by its Russian abbreviation as KAZ, for "Kislorodno-Azotny Zavod" -- the Oxygen-Nitrogen Plant.
The plant was one of the earliest facilities of the cosmodrome and it saw several expansions over the decades. In the high days of the Soviet space program, the complex could generate up to 300 tons of cryogenic fuel per day.
The facility was flanked by vast storage reservoirs and even by its own residential village.
In the mid-1990s, as it was the case for the most infrastructure in Baikonur, the industry took over the operation of the plant from the military.
From its early days, the space center, its personell and infrastructure required steady flow of water -- a rare commodity in the desert-like climate of Kazakhstan.
Overview of the main residential and support infrastructure in Baikonur:
The propellant-producing plant. Copyright © 2001 by Anatoly Zak