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Foundation of “Baikonur” Space Center

2 June 1955

On February 12 1955 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union together with the USSR Council of Ministers for missile test and space technology research passed a joint resolution on foundation of the Scientific-Research Test Range No. 5 of the Soviet Defence Ministry (NIIP № 5).

In January 1955 the first military construction units under the command of the senior lieutenant I. N. Denezhkin arrived to the Tyura-Tam station (Kazakhstan). The building of the new missile test range was supervised by an experienced military constructor, colonel, later general Georgy Shubnikov. Hardships, which arouse during the space center construction, were caused not only by severe climatic conditions but also an unsettled mode of life, extremely tight deadlines, and lack of any expertise in building objects of this kind. M. G. Grigorenko, one of the organizers and participants of the space center construction, remembered: “…Nowhere in the world was any experience in designing and building such complicated and unique constructions and complexes, as a cosmodrome (space launching site). Requirements for accuracy and great longevity of the construction were extremely high. Without daily inventiveness, creativity, engineer’s courage, without a skill to take risks it was hardly possible to achieve success. …no wonder that the construction was headed by war veterans — people, who survived through severe hardships of the war, passed through its crucible, people who were neither scared nor stopped by any obstacles”.

In accordance with an Order of the USSR Ministry of Defence of August 3 1960 No 00105 the date of June 2 was declared the Day of the “Baikonur” Space Center foundation.

On May 5 1957 a special commission approved the first missile complex of the test range and already on May 15 the test launch of R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile, developed by the S. P. Korolyov Design Bureau, was commenced.

On October 4 1957 the first Earth satellite was launched. On April 12 1961 the “Vostok” spacecraft was launched, taking the first astronaut Yuri Gagarin into space.

On April 12 1961 the test range was awarded a Red Banner.

For the great contribution to consolidation of the country’s defence, solution of economic and research aims, Baikonur Space Center was awarded the Order of Red Star (1960), the Order of Lenin (1965) and the Order of October Revolution (1975).

Moreover, the space center received honorary banners of Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Presidium of Supreme Soviet, the USSR Council of Ministers (1967), the Central Committee of the Communist Union of Youth (1975), Central Committee of Communist Party of Kazakhstan, Military Council of Strategic Rocket Forces. A number of branches of the test range were awarded memorable banners of the Central Committee of the Communist Union of Youth, Central Committee of the trade union of the Ministry of Defence, many branches and departments were included into the Strategic Rocket Forces Book of Honor.

After the break-up of the USSR the space center found itself on the territory of Kazakhstan and was let on lease to the Russian Federation. In 2004 the period of lease was prolonged to 2050.

Today Baikonur is an international space center, a unique research and social complex. Main objects of the space center are launch pads. Baikonur represents over 2,500 missile launchings.

Lit: Создание космодрома Байконур [Электронный ресурс] // Исследование Солнечной системы. 2005-2015. URL: http://galspace.spb.ru/index70-1.html.

From the Presidential library materials:

Open Space: collection.