Baikonur meaning fertile land is the largest and first spaceport located in the territory of Kazakhstan. It occupies an area of 6717 km2 . The construction of the spaceport began in February of 1955. At the beginning it was supposed to be polygon for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Baikonur is of great international importance. From Baikonur it is possible to launch different types of launch vehicles. One of the three launching sites of the planet, along with Cape Canaveral spaceport in the United States and Jiuquan in China, designated for launching vehicles with the astronauts on board. The orbit of the ISS was chosen taking into account the latitude of Baikonur - where key launches are run.
While choosing a site for the construction of the polygon the following criterias indicated the place of polygon:
· vast, sparsely populated area of land which is little used in agricultural production (there was a need for considerable land area of alienation in the areas falling rocket stages, the route of flight must not pass over the major cities and towns);
· the presence of the railway for the delivery of various cargoes to the site, including blocks of missiles;
· reliable sources of fresh water for drinking and site process;
· distance between the start of the rocket and place of the fall of the head part must not be less than 7000 km
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s spaceport Baikonur was left to Kazakhstan but Russia lease Baikonur spaceport until 2050. Parliament of Kazakhstan ratified an agreement to extend the lease until 2050 in April 2010.
On the Baikonur, was launched the first satellite and first manned space flight, launched manned spacecrafts of series such as "East", "Sunrise", "Union", series of space stations "Salut", "Peace" , reusable system "Energy" - "Buran" and interplanetary spacecraft and satellites.
By 2009, Russian troops
have left the cosmodrome "Baikonur" and it is fully transferred
to Roskosmos (the process step by step came with the 1997). As
of 2010 at the launch site there was only one smallest military
unit 11 284 (the former headquarters of the spaceport, now a
separate test control of space forces of Russia), providing
support to the launching of the satellites of defense.
Russia considers it is a promising to transport manned launches on Russia's new space center, "East" in the Amur region (after 2018). Thus, in the years 2020-2040 from Baikonur will run only automatic spacecrafts (for launch vehicles "Soyuz-2", "Zenith", "Baiterek").
Kazakhstan is currently considering the issue of self-exploitation of the "Baikonur" after the final transfer of starts to the Amur region and the termination of lease of "Baikonur". According to one unconfirmed version, after 2050 the launch site will be reconstructed into the international Space Flight Center in cooperation with the European and Israeli space agencies.
In October 2010 the President of daughter company of "Kazkosmos" announced that Kazakhstan considers that self-exploitation of Baikonur would be possible to begin in 2014.