The spaceport is located in the desert steppe of Baikonur, about 200 kilometers east of the Aral Sea and north of the river Syr Darya. It is near the Tyuratam railway station and is about 90 meters above sea level.

Baikonur Cosmodrome is currently leased by the Kazakh Government to Russia until 2050, and is managed jointly by the Roscosmos State Corporation and the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Cosmodrome Baikonur launch pad / Image source

It was originally built by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s as the base of operations for the Soviet space program. Under the current Russian space program, Baikonur remains a busy spaceport, with numerous commercial, military, and scientific missions being launched annually. All crewed Russian spaceflights are launched from Baikonur.

Both Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, and Vostok 1, the first human spaceflight, were launched from Baikonur. The launch pad used for both missions was renamed Gagarin’s Start in honor of Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, pilot of Vostok 1 and first human in space.

Launch pads at site 110 in Baikonur / Image source

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