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Baikonur (Tyuratam) Space Launch Site



M. Gruntman, From Tyuratam Missile Range to Baikonur Cosmodrome,
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.12.021 (or email -- mikeg@usc.edu -- the author for pdf)
Acta Astronautica, vol. 155, pp. 250-366, 2019
(detailed historical account)

Baikonur Space Launch Site  – Cosmodrome

Tyuratam Missile Test Range

Nauchno-Issledovatel'skii Ispytatel'nyi Poligon N.5 (NIIP-5)

or Scientific-Research Test Range N.5

first U-2 Tyuratam Baikonur photos

Space reconnaissance KH-7 photos of Baikonur Tyuratam in 1966  –  unique (nowhere else) cofee mug and T-shirt

baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range mousepad     baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range coffee mug baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range coffee mug     baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range t-shirt

displaying the cosmodrome (missile range) area and zoomed-in first space launch pad (Sputnik, Gagarin, Soyuz)
and main residential and headquarters area (Tyuratam, Leninsk, Baikonur)

Mouse pad  –  baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range mousepad      coffee mug  –  baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range coffee mug      T-shirt  –  baikonur launch site tyuratam missile range t-shirt

other rocket science stuff


tyuratam baikonur schematic

Tours to space launches at Baikonur

It is possible to visit Baikonur as a tourist and attend space launches.

Main tour operators:

Vegitel  –  http://starcity-tours.com

Mir Corp.  –  http://mircorp.com

Space Affairs  –  http://space-affairs.com

Space Adventures  –  http://spaceadventures.com


M. Gruntman, From Tyuratam Missile Range to Baikonur Cosmodrome, Acta Astronautica, Vol. 155, 250-366, 2019;
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.12.021 (or email -- mikeg@usc.edu -- the author for pdf)

acta astro 2019

Detailed historical account of establishing Tyuratam/Baikonur, discovery of its location by the United States, and naming Baikonur after Gagarin's flight in 1961
(article abstract and flyer)


rocket equation coffee mug for rocket scientists rocket equation mousepad for rocket scientists rocket equation T-shirt for rocket scientists yes-to-engineering sticker for rocket scientists      other rocket science stuff


From Tyuratam Missile Range to Baikonur Cosmodrome

M. Gruntman, From Tyuratam Missile Range to Baikonur Cosmodrome, Acta Astronautica, Vol. 155, 250-366, 2019;
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.12.021.

Abstract

The Soviet space port in Kazakhstan, Baikonur cosmodrome, occupies a special place in the history of rocketry and spaceflight. The first intercontinental ballistic missile R-7 successfully lifted off there in August 1957 and reached the Kamchatka peninsula six thousand kilometers away. Six weeks later, a modified R-7 placed the first artificial satellite of the planet Earth, Sputnik, into orbit. In 1961, the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin began his space journey from the same launch pad. At that time the Soviet Union publicly identified, as a Cold War deception, the secret space port as Baikonur, a small town 300 km away from the real location of the launch site. American government officials had known the precise location of the launch base since 1957 and called it more accurately Tyuratam after the nearby railroad station. Space publications rarely mention the artificial, decoy nature of the name Baikonur. Most of the general public today, particularly younger generations, never heard about Tyuratam. This article describes establishment of the first cosmodrome and its naming Tyuratam and Baikonur. It includes some never published heretofore historic documents and reconnaissance photographs.

What's in a name?
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii)

1. Introduction

In 1961 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) announced to the world for the first time the location and the name of its secret launch site that had sent to space the first satellites and the first cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin. The USSR decided to register the historic Gagarin flight as a world record with the International Aeronautical Federation (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale or FAI). The FAI rules required specifying the geographic coordinates of the launch and landing areas of the cosmonaut as part of the record dossier.

The first space launches took place at a test range of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). In an ostensible attempt to preserve secrecy of its location and mislead the adversaries, Soviet officials provided geographic coordinates of the launch site, the cosmodrome, that was 300 km downrange trajectories of the launched space vehicles. They also identified a small town there, Baikonur. FAI recorded this inaccurate information for posterity. Mass media made the name of the decoy Baikonur famous and it stuck. The government of Kazakhstan even renamed the missile range residential area Leninsk to Baikonur in 1995. A number of respected reference publications such as world atlases and dictionaries listed erroneous coordinates of the decoy Baikonur as those of historic launches [1].

This Cold War deception was unnecessary because an American U-2 reconnaissance plane had photographed the launch site in early August of 1957. U.S. officials named the missile range Tyuratam after the nearby railroad station and government documents have been calling it that name since then. Publicly, the deception continued as the United States did not reveal its knowledge in order to protect intelligence gathering capabilities. For the Soviet Union, the secrecy from the prying Western eyes was always the way of life. In addition, acknowledging U-2 overflights of Soviet territory would have harmed country's prestige. While some Soviet leaders and military officers knew about the reach of the U-2 program many did not [2-5].

It is not known which Soviet leader made the decision to provide the decoy place and name of the cosmodrome to FAI. Perhaps archival documents will reveal the details in the future. Today, some fragments of the story of finding location of the secret launch base by the United States and its naming by the Soviet Union are scattered in publications. Sometimes, they contain factual inaccuracies. This article describes establishment of the first cosmodrome and its naming Tyuratam and Baikonur. It includes never published heretofore historic documents and reconnaissance photographs.

2. Poligon—new intercontinental ballistic missile test range

– – – – – – – 

One can download the full article from the journal web site at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.12.021

or email the author -- mikeg@usc.edu -- for a pdf copy.


Brief history of Tyuratam-Baikonur

in Blazing the Trail

The Soviet government established Nauchno-Issledovatel'skii Ispytatel'nyi Poligon N.5 (NIIIP-5), or Scientific-Research Test Range N.5 (future Tyuratam or Baikonur) by its decree of 12 February 1955.

The U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance plane found and photographed for the first time the missile test range on 5 August 1957. The location of the new rocket center was identified on the World War II German topographical map near Bf., or Bahnhof (station in German), Tyuratam. Dino A. Brugioni, an assistant to the chief of the CIA's Photo-Interpretation Division (PID), named the launching site Tyuratam, following the intelligence community practice of naming installations after the nearby towns. The USSR kept the location of the missile range secret.

Blazing the Trail page 310-323 Only in 1961 after the launch of the first man to space, Yuri A. Gagarin, the Soviet Union publicly identified the launch site location as Baikonur after a small town ... nearly 200 miles (320 km) northeast away.

See M. Gruntman, Blazing the Trail. The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry, AIAA, 2004 for the historic and technological background and context. (Many major libraries  –  more than 500 worldwide  –  have the book in their collections.)
Pages 310–323 of the book (in Chapter 14 "Gateways to Heaven"  –  history of Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, Tyuratam-Baikonur, Plesetsk) describe the history of the establishment and construction of the Tyuratam Missile Test Range (Baikonur Space Launch Site  – Cosmodrome).

fragments of the decree of the USSR Council of Ministers establishing the Tyuratam Baikonur Missile Test Range –  Page 312 from Blazing the Trail
shows parts of the decree of the USSR Council of Ministers establishing the Tyuratam (Baikonur) Missile Test Range.

composite satellite image of the early Tyuratam Baikonur launch complex, the cosmodrome, obtained by Corona on 30 May 1962 –  Pages 320-321 from Blazing the Trail
shows a composite satellite image of the early Tyuratam (Baikonur) launch complex, the cosmodrome, obtained by Corona on 30 May 1962. Also shown (zoomed in) are the first space launching pad (first satellite sputnik, first cosmonaut Gagarin) and the settlement, later called Leninsk.

first intercept p. 133 –  Page 133 from Intercept 1961
discovery of Tyuratam - Baikonur


rocket equation coffee mug for rocket scientists rocket equation mousepad for rocket scientists rocket equation T-shirt for rocket scientists yes-to-engineering sticker for rocket scientists      other rocket science stuff



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