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Spaceports Around the World:

Russia's Numerous Active Spaceports

Russia spaceport map Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome - Volgograd Station

Russia created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR). CIS is composed of twelve of the fifteen former Soviet republics, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome was the Soviet Union's first rocket development center. Its first launch was in 1947. During the early years, Kapustin Yar tested captured V2 missiles captured from the germans at the end of World War 2. The site also saw sounding rocket launches in the early years carrying dogs and other animals up to altitudes as high as 300 miles. Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome is known as the Volgograd Station to those who work there.

The first orbital launch from Kapustin Yar was Cosmos 1 in 1962. Seventy space launches to orbit were carried out by 1980, mostly small Cosmos science satellites. The USSR switched its space launches to Plesetsk leaving Kapustin Yar to send up only occasional missions, usually for radar calibration. There have been no launches to orbit since 1987. Space launches from Kapustin Yar totaled 83. Today there are some missile testing activities as well as Cosmos suborbital launches.

Baikonur Cosmodrome - Tyuratam

On October 4, 1957, the U.S.S.R. became the first nation to loft an artificial moon to orbit above Earth. The satellite was named Sputnik 1. It rode atop a rocket called Old Number Seven in a launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Missile and rocket launches began in the 1950s in the Baikonur/Tyuratam area of Kazakhstan in central Asia. The launch pad from which Sputnik 1 and Yuri Gagarin were launched was constructed in 1955. In 1957, the launch site was said to be near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan, about 230 miles southwest of Baikonur. However, the Soviet Union government tried to hide the location by reporting its latitude and longitude as the same as that for the town of Baikonur. Baikonur Cosmodrome actually is located at 45.6oN and 63.4oE. Kazakhstan finally renamed the launch site after the closer Tyuratam in 1992. However, the global space community still refers to it as Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Baikonur is a large cosmodrome with nine launch complexes encompassing fifteen launch pads. All of Russia's manned space flights and interplanetary probes are launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Baikonur is the only cosmodrome launching Proton, Zenit, Energia and Tsyklon SL-11 space rockets. Launches headed due east would be the most efficient, but are not flown from Baikonur because lower stages of the rockets might fall into China.

Plesetsk Cosmodrome

In 1957, the first of several pads at Plesetsk Cosmodrome for launches of the old R7 or A-class missiles-rockets were constructed in support of the USSR's then-infant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program. The pads and ICBM rockets moved to active duty in 1960.

For a long time, Plesetsk Cosmodrome was the world's busiest spaceport. However, it eventually was overtaken by Baikonur as launch campaigns were transferred to newer space boosters at Tyuratam. Today, there are launch pads -- for Cosmos, Soyuz/Molniya Tsyklon and Zenit space boosters.

Plesetsk Cosmodrome is located in Russia at 2.8oN and 40.1oE, which allows the launch of communications satellites and spy satellites to polar and highly elliptical orbits. Range safety restrictions limit flights from Plesetsk to 62.8o, 67.1o, 73-74o, 82-83o.

Svobodny Cosmodrome

Svobodny is a new cosmodrome created by President Boris Yeltsin in 1996 and built out of a decommissioned missile site at Svobodny-18 about sixty miles from the Chinese border -- for Start, Rockot and Angara space boosters.

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