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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

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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.
The article pdf file is too large (11M) to be posted on this website.
Please contact the author -- mikeg@usc.edu -- for the article pdf to be emailed to you.

acta astro 2019      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.


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

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

or contact the author -- mikeg@usc.edu -- for a pdf copy.
(The article pdf file is too large (11M) to be posted on this site.)


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.


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

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

or contact the author -- mikeg@usc.edu -- for a pdf copy.
(The article pdf file is too large (11M) to be posted on this site.)


2. Poligon—new intercontinental ballistic missile test range

Powerful rockets belong to a category of inherently complex and advanced technologies wherein an isolated creative and gifted inventor cannot succeed alone. Only the concerted effort of numerous well organized professional scientists and engineers can achieve capable practical systems. The USSR was the first to marshal the necessary resources and organize a large-scale development of ballistic missiles [6].

The military-sponsored Jet Propulsion Scientific Research Institute (abbreviated RNII in Russian) employed 400 engineers and technicians in a sprawling complex in Moscow in the early 1930s [6,7]. At that time the Soviet missile program dwarfed the effort of National-Socialist Germany. The latter would later produce the first modern ballistic missile A-4 (V-2). In the same decade of the 1930s political purges set the Soviet rocketry back. The German successes in designing, mass producing, and fielding operational ballistic missiles had demonstrated an extraordinary potential of the new technology. Emerging atomic weapons made long-range missiles especially important for future warfare.

After the end of World War II (WWII) the Soviet Union revitalized its ballistic missile program, beginning with the reproduction of the German A-4. The special decree No. 1017-419 of the USSR Council of Ministers "Matters of the rocket weapons" on May 13, 1946 established the structure of the rocket and space establishment for many years to come [8–10]. Among high priority tasks, the decree called for creation of a special test site, or poligon in Russian (stress on the last syllable, po-li-GON), for the ballistic missile program.

In 1947, the military activated the State Central Test Range N.4 (GTsP N.4) near the settlement Kapustin Yar on the eastern bank of the Volga river 110 km (70 miles) southeast from Stalingrad (Volgograd). General Vasilii I. Voznyuk (1907–1976) would command the test site until 1973. Kapustin Yar, or Kap Yar, as it was commonly called, became the primary proving ground for ballistic missiles in the 1940s and early 1950s. New sites for testing air defense systems and air force weapons (the latter often referred to as Vladimirovka) were established in the adjacent areas. Later, Kap Yar became a space port, a cosmodrome, launching its first satellite, Kosmos 1, into orbit in 1962.

Sergei P. Korolev (1906–1966) directed development of the first Soviet ballistic missiles R-1 (8A11, SS-1, Scunner), R-2 (8Zh38, SS-2, Sibling), and R-3 [11,12]. Vasilii P. Mishin (1917–2001) served as Korolev's key deputy in missile development since mid-1940s and would replace him as chief designer after his death in 1966.

The Kap Yar poligon was adequate for flight tests of these early rockets as well as for development of more capable intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) R-5 (8A62, SS-3, Shyster) also built by Korolev and R-12 (8K63, SS-4, Sandal) being developed by Mikhail K. Yangel (1911–1971) in Yuzhnoe Design Bureau in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine [13,14]. The ranges of these missiles did not exceed 2000 km (1250 miles).

On December 4, 1950, the Soviet government authorized a feasibility study of intercontinental missiles "with the range 5000–10000 km and warhead mass 1–10 tonne" [15]. (One tonne is a metric ton or 1000 kg.) Two years later the decree No. 443-213ss of the USSR Council of Ministers "On plan of research and development work on long-range rockets for 1953–1955," signed by Joseph Stalin on February 13, 1953, focused Korolev's work on a two-stage ICBM and a two-stage intercontinental winged (cruise) missile [16]. The ballistic and cruise missiles had to deliver 3000-kg (6600-lb) warheads to a distance of 8000 km (5000 miles) with the accuracy of ±15 km (±9 miles). This program would ultimately lead to Korolev's first intercontinental ballistic missile R-7 (8K71, SS-6, Sapwood) and launch of Sputnik.

One year later a different ministry became responsible for the winged missiles. The design bureaus of Semen A. Lavochkin (1900–1960) and Vladimir M. Myasishchev (1902–1978) took over development of the Burya (Tempest in Russian) and Buran (Blizzard) intercontinental cruise missiles, respectively. Many features of Burya and Buran were not unlike those of the supersonic cruise missile Navaho being built by North American Aviation in the United States [17]. At that time both countries considered such cruise missiles as a possible alternative to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The existing Kap Yar proving ground was too small for intercontinental weapons. Consequently, on March 17, 1954, the decree of the USSR Council of Ministers No. 447-202 "On measures to provide flight tests of articles 'R' on long range" ordered selection of a new larger test site by January 1, 1955 [18]. At the same time another government decree on May 20, 1954 authorized development of the first ICBM R-7 and made it a top national priority.

Kap Yar commander General Voznyuk headed a survey group evaluating possible areas for the new test site. Safety, security, and ICBM range played a major role in determining location of the poligon [19–21]. In addition, the R-7 radio guidance system required three control posts a few hundred kilometers from the launch site which also influenced selection. The radio posts limited yaw deviations of the missile and kept its trajectory in the desired plane. Inertial guidance would become practical several years later.

On February 4, 1955, six officials representing ministries of defense, middle machine building, defense industry, aviation industry, and radiotechnical industry reported the results of site selection [18]. They noted the impossibility of having both the launch site and the impact area 8000 km (5000 miles) away on Soviet territory. Instead, the report proposed to establish a new missile range in Kazakhstan and the impact area 6200 km (3850 miles) away at the Kamchatka peninsula. The required test launches for the full 8000-km range would be conducted at impact areas farther away in the Pacific Ocean.

A week later on February 12, 1955, the new top-secret special-file decree of the USSR Council of Minister No. 292-181 "On new testing range for the USSR Ministry of Defense" authorized "establishment in 1955–1958 of a scientific-research and testing range of the USSR Ministry of Defense for flight development of articles R-7, Burya, and Buran" [22]. The decree placed the headquarters area of the new range "in the Kzyl-Orda and Karaganda administrative regions of the Kazakh SSR [Soviet Socialist Republic] between [the towns of] Novo-Kazalinsk and Dzhusaly." It designated the impact area for tested "articles" on the Ozernoi peninsula at Kamchatka. Fig. 1 shows the locations of the new missile poligon (Tyuratam) and the Kamchatka impact site, codenamed Kama and later, from 1973, Kura. Also shown are the first ballistic missile proving ground Kap Yar, Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, and missile defense test site at Saryshagan activated in 1956 [5,23].

The decree also directed the Air Force to conduct the first phase of flight trials of Burya and Buran from the Vladimirovka area at Kap Yar. The first winged missiles did indeed fly there but the government canceled their further development before the tests could be moved to a new larger range in Kazakhstan.

3. Construction in the desert

The wheels of government bureaucracy began to turn ...

– – – – – – – 


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

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

or contact the author -- mikeg@usc.edu -- for a pdf copy.
(The article pdf file is too large (11M) to be posted on this site.)



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



books

Recommended science and engineering books on astronautics, rocketry, and space technology

books

Recommended missile defense books

books

Recommended books on history of astronautics, rocketry, and space


essential library on Israel history


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other rocket science items