The Baikonur Cosmodrome
Published 24 January 2013
Baikonur Cosmodrome in the remote desert steppes of Kazakhstan is one of the most important sites in the history of space travel. During the Soviet era, the first man-made satellite, "Sputnik 1," took off from there in 1957, and it was also the place where the first man in space, Yury Gagarin, blasted into orbit in 1961. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baikonur has been used to launch missions to the International Space Station. Russia has also continued to operate space missions from Baikonur under the terms of an agreement with Astana, even though this cooperation is now under threat due to a dispute between Kazakhstan and Russia over the rent paid for the use of the facility. (12 PHOTOS)
The "Vostok-1" spacehip, carrying Yury Gagarin on his historic first manned flight into space, blasts off on top of an R-7 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961.
Cosmonaut Yury Gagarin just before blasting into orbit in the "Vostok-1" at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961.
The launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in June 1970.
A Russian-made space rocket is transported by rail to the Baikonur launch site in October 1994.
The Soyuz TMA-13 on its way to being readied for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in October 2008.
A Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft carrying a crew to the International Space Station blasts off from Baikonur in December 2012.
A Russian policeman stands guard near a Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft as it is delivered to its Baikonur launchpad in March 2010.
A Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft crosses the bleak Kazakh steppes on its way to the Baikonur launch pad in July 2012.
A Proton M carrier rocket with a Nimiq 5 satellite makes its way to the Baikonur launch pad in September 2009.
International Space Station crew member, cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, is put through his paces in a Soyuz spacecraft during training at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in October 2012.
A Russian Orthodox priest conducts a blessing service in front of a Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft at its Baikonur launch pad in October 2012.
A camel grazes in front of antennas used for space communication at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in July 2012.