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Forever Young: Baikonur Cosmodrome turns 62!

Believed to have been built on sacred land, Baikonur, the world’s largest spaceport, was founded on June 2, 1955. It has hosted some of the most iconic rocket and satellite launches in history. It was from this cosmodrome that Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova went on their epic voyages to space.
By Boris Egorov, Slava Petrakina, RBTH
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ZUMA Press/Global Look Press

The Baikonur Cosmodrome, the world's first and largest operational spaceport, is located in the desert steppe of southern Kazakhstan. It was founded on June 2, 1955.
Baikonur

Roman Sokolov/RIA Novosti

Russia pays $115 million annually to lease the spaceport, under an agreement scheduled to last until 2050.
Baikonur

AP

Ancient nomads considered the area of the future spaceport sacred and called it the ‘Navel of the Earth.’
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Getty Images

The remnants of an ancient civilization were found during the construction of the spaceport. Leading spacecraft designer Sergey Korolev called this a good sign.
Baikonur

ZUMA Press/Global Look Press

The cosmodrome was founded on June 2, 1955 as a test site for the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7.
Baikonur

Reuters

Sputnik 1, the Earth's first artificial satellite, was launched from Baikonur on October 4, 1957.
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AP

Yuri Gagarin took part in the first manned space mission from the cosmodrome’s first launch pad on April 12, 1961.
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Reuters

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly to space when she traveled on the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963.
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Reuters

Over 1,500 spacecraft that served a variety of purposes and more than 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles have been launched from Baikonur in less than half a century.
Baikonur

AP

Moscow plans to replace Baikonur with the new Vostochny spaceport, which is under construction in the Russian Far East.

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