is the world’s first and largest space launch facility. Located in Kazakhstan, it has an area of 6,717 km². The world’s first man-made satellite (October 4, 1957) and the first manned orbital flight (April 12, 1961) were both launched from Baikonur.
Baikonur is used to launch manned space vehicles, place satellites in geostationary orbit, and put automatic interplanetary stations into orbit.
It is one of the international space industry’s main centres. To date, more then 200 cosmonauts and astronauts, and more than 2,500 space-mission vehicles have taken off from here. Spacecraft flying to the Moon, Mars and Venus have been launched from Baikonur, as were the Salyut and Mir space stations, which orbited the earth. Russian modules of the International Space Station were launched from Baikonur, and the Buran space shuttle vehicle took off and landed in automatic regime here.
Construction of Baikonur began on January 12, 1955, and the site has been operating as a cosmodrome since 1957. After the breakup of the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, the cosmodrome became part of independent Kazakhstan. Russia uses the site under a rental agreement until 2050.