June 2, 2010

Baikonur Cosmodrome Space Launches

Baikonur cosmodrome is the world's largest operating launch facility. It is located in what is now Kazakhstan and has been ground zero for the Soviet and later, Russian space programs' projects. Basically, it’s the Russian space program's Kennedy Space Center.

Baikonur Cosmodrome 01

The Baikonur cosmodrome was founded on June 2, 1955. It was originally a missile launch facility but was later expanded to support space launches as well. The space facility's name is actually an interesting story as it was originally the name of a town 200 miles north of it. The supposition is that this was done to confuse the United States military. This makes sense due to its original purpose and the Space Race that started shortly afterward.

Baikonur Cosmodrome 02

During the Soviet era, when Kazakhstan was still a part of the Soviet Union, Baikonur became the Milan and Venice of the Space exploration renaissance. Many of the Soviet space program's groundbreaking successes in spaceflight occurred here. It was the site where Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, was launched starting the beginning of the famous rivalry in the development of space technology between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was also where the Soviet launched the first animal, a dog named Laika, into space as well as the launch stage for the mission that made Yuri Gagarin the first man in space.

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