Baikonur (that means «fertile land» in Kazakh) – is a small town in the Kyzylorda region of Kazakhstan, located on the right, the high bank in a bend of the Syr Darya River.
The climate here is sharply continental arid, characterized by long hot, dry summers and cold with little snow, very windy winters.
Starting from the 50-s of last century, the city of Baikonur – is indisputable capital of the first and the world’s largest cosmodrome located in Kazakhstan near the village of Tyuratam.
Polygon of «Baikonur» began to be built on February 12 in 1955 year, according to the accepted decision of the Government of the USSR, and in 1957 year officially became the spaceport. In the 1970-1980’s it was the largest cosmodrome in Soviet Union, as well as all over the world. It was namely here, where the first satellite and first manned flight were launched into space, it manned spacecraft of «Sunrise», «East» and «Soyuz» series went to the stars, as well as space stations, named «Salyut» and «Mir», Space Shuttle «Buran» — «Energy», artificial satellites and interplanetary spacecrafts. It is impossible to count everything, because during its existence, from «Baikonur» cosmodrome, in total, more than the half world’s space starts were launched.
The capital of the cosmodrome –the city of Baikonur was built at the same time with the construction of special essential facilities of polygon in 1955 year as a settlement for the first testers. The general plan of its construction was very similar to the plans of other major military bases at the time.
The construction of a residential village was started along the Syr Darya River, and the first constructed objects, became the streets with beautiful names — Quay, School, Sand, Pioneer. The settlement grew and was improved, and in 1958 year by the order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR, it was given the name of Lenin.
In 1966 year, in connection with the planned visit to Spaceport of French President Charles de Gaulle and other foreign dignitaries, the issue of assigning the status of the city to the village appeared. When choosing a name there was an emerged mass of options even including to call a future city as Zvezdograd, but finally it was decided to stop on the name of Leninsk. Thus, in June of 1966 year, the village of Lenin was classified as a city of regional subordination by assigning if the proud name of Leninsk.
During the period from 1966-75 years Baikonur began to be developed just rapidly. Therefore, new businesses, entertainment, cultural, educational, sports, educational, medical, and other institutions started to operate. That time the monuments to V.I. Lenin and the S.P. Korolev were constructed.
The last wave of construction activity in the city occurred in the 80s, when, in connection with the testing of rocket and space systems of «Buran», thousands of officers — graduates of military academies came into Baikonur, precisely for their resettlement were built new neighborhoods and social enterprises . Monuments to Y.A. Gagarin, G.M. Shubnikov, M.K. Yangel were set.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 year, affected the life of the cosmodrome and the city as a whole. It was the reduction in the number of space launches, there was a massive outflow of officers and staff of that spaceport. In the same year, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the Baikonur Cosmodrome to be the property of the republic. In the nearly abandoned town irregular with food, water, electricity, heat and gas began. The population of Leninsk decreased from 90 to 55 thousand people.
In December of 1995 year the city of Leninsk was renamed for Baikonur.
The Governments of two countries — Kazakhstan and Russia have been very concerned about the subsequent fate of such a large object of world importance. This is no accident, for Kazakhstan, Baikonur – is impossibly high burden, which could not be paid, because the country did not have its own space program. At that time, both for Russia, Baikonur was of course, very necessary, but not as an object of another state.
And then, among the many other existing methods of solving this problem, rental way has been selected.
Largely thanks to assistance from the Government of the Russian Federation and the efficient operation of city government since the late 90s the living conditions of residents have been greatly improved, municipal services were restored and rule of law was strengthened.
And today the city, together with unique space systems, is in long-term lease from the Government of Russia (until 2050 year).
Baikonur has a temporary status of the federal authorities of Russia. Therefore, although it is outside the Russian Federation, the Russian law and Russian structures work in its territory. According to the agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan, the chief of staff in the city should be appointed in concert of two presidents. However, in the jurisdiction of Kazakhstan Customs «Baikonur» remains, serving the city’s airports, as well as the local police department, to maintain order in the suburbs of Tyuratam and Akai and conducting registration review.
Modern Cosmodrome is located in an area of 57 square kilometers and has a population of 59.5 thousand people. These days, in connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decline in the space industry, 90% of city residents are Kazakhs, against 1% in the 70s of last century.
The majority of the population, as previously is employed at the launch site. The CHP, municipal services, social enterprise operate in the city. A large number of shops — markets, shops, restaurants, cafes were reopened.
Today in Baikonur there are 14 general, two music, sports and art schools. 10 kindergartens were opened, branch offices of universities and institutes operate too. The city’s Palace of Culture and the Garrison House Officers welcome guests. City Hospital and Military Hospital work smoothly. The city has a stadium, «Decade,» Swimming Pool «Orion», a sports complex «Mayak», two beaches with hydrogen sulfide sources, a large number of catering. Favorite place for citizens and guests of Baikonur is the pedestrian zone in the street of Korolev, dubbed by the people as «Arbat».
Tourists, who come here, have a unique opportunity to visit the space ship of «Buran», the initial sets of «Proton» and «Zenith», test complex of rocket «Soyuz», the site of space launch of Yuri Gagarin, as well as house-museum of chief designer Sergei Korolyov, and much, much more.
Attractions in Baikonur.
Over the past decade, the grateful descendants have not forgotten the names of people, who have launched and closely related to the spaceport — legendary designers – S.P. Korolev, V.N. Chelomei, M.K. Yangel, V.P. Barmin, V.I. Kuznetsov, V.P. Glushko, the people, who created spaceport -M.I. Nedelin, G.M. Shubnikov, M.S. Ryazan, A.A. Nitochkin, E.I. Ostashev, AI Nesterenko, A.I. Nosov, A. Maximov, A. Kirillov, astronauts – Y.A. Gagarin, G.S. Titov and V.M. Komarov.
In their honor, streets and parks, schools and technical schools were named. There is a huge number of stelae, monuments and memorial plaques in the city dedicated to outstanding citizens
Architectural and monumental composition «Science-to-space.»
The monument was opened in 1975 year in honor of the space in the park, which is named after G.M. Shubnikov. The sculptural composition is in the form of a woman holding the globe in one hand and in another — a rocket, which represents the connection between science and the cosmos. At present, the monument is a symbol of the city of Baikonur.
Monument «Launcher of » Soyuz «.
That is a full-scale mock of «Soyuz» rocket — one of three remaining in the FSU. Monument is set on the Korolev Avenue and dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the construction of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It is mounted and secured to a reinforced concrete pedestal at an angle to the horizon. This model was previously used to verify the operation of starting systems, routine maintenance, as well as for education and training of combat crews.
That is the large-scale sports facility located in the city along the waterfront of Syr Darya river , which opening ceremony was held in 1971 year. The ensemble includes a stadium, «Decade,» pool «Orion», a sports complex «Mayak», shooting and sports grounds. In addition to the above, there are a tennis court, three playgrounds, two playgrounds for mini football, as well as playground for badminton further along the river.
Shrine of St. George.
Solemn opening date of the Orthodox Church Baikonur is June 1, 2005 year, when it was consecrated by Eleutheriy, the Archbishop of Chimkent and Akmola, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Baikonur. However, the birthday of the Orthodox parish, can be rightly called the April 1, 1992 year, that is when the first service was held here for the townspeople. The temple, like the parish, is included in Chimkent and Akmola diocese and is under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.