100 m (300 ft)
Tuesday 8:52 PM
Russia - rented and administrated|
-5°C, Wind NE at 8 km/h, 86% Humidity
Baikonur (Kazakh: Байқоңыр, Bayqoñır; Russian: Байконур, Baykonur), formerly known as Leninsk (also, see Tyuratam), is a city of republic significance in Kazakhstan on the right bank of the Syr Darya river, rented and administered by the Russian Federation. It was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome and was officially renamed Baikonur by Russian president Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995. During the Soviet period, it was sometimes referred to as Zvezdograd (Star City).
In 2009, the population of Baikonur was 36,175 (2009 Census results), while in 1999, it was 28,776 (1999 Census results).
The rented area is an ellipse measuring 90 kilometres (56 mi) east to west by 85 km (53 mi) north to south, with the cosmodrome situated at the area's centre.
The original Baikonur (Kazakh for "wealthy brown", i.e. "fertile land with many herbs") is a mining town a few hundred kilometres northeast of the present location, near Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan's Karagandy Region. Starting with Vostok 1 in April 1961, the launch site was given this name to cause confusion and keep the location secret. (The original Baikonur's residents took advantage of the confusion by ordering and receiving many scarce materials before government officials discovered the deception.) Baikonur's railway station predates the base and retains the old name of Tyuratam. This was the original Soviet railway station (railhead) on the Moscow to Tashkent Railway that the Cosmodrome was initially named after.
The fortunes of the city have varied according to those of the Soviet or Russian space program and its Baikonur Cosmodrome. Foreign visitors will need pre-approval from the Russian authorities to visit both the town of Baikonur itself and the Cosmodrome. Note that said approval is completely separate from just having a Russian Visa; Generally speaking, approval to visit Baikonur is best organised via third-party tourism operators.
The Soviet government established the Nauchno-Issledovatel'skii Ispytatel'nyi Poligon N.5 (NIIIP-5), or Scientific-Research Test Range N.5 by its decree of 12 February 1955. The U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance plane found and photographed the Tyuratam missile test range (cosmodrome Baikonur) for the first time on 5 August 1957. See right for a composite satellite image of the early Tyuratam launch complex, the cosmodrome (30 May 1962).