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The Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakh: Байқоңыр ғарыш айлағы Baiqoñyr ğaryş ailağy [bɑjxɔˈnər ɣɑˈrəʃ ɑjlɑˈɣə]; Russian: Космодром Байконур Kosmodrom Baykonur [kɐsməˈdrom bɐjkəˈnʊr]) is a spaceport operated by Russia within Kazakhstan. Located in the Kazakh city of Baikonur, it is the largest operational space launch facility in terms of area. All Russian crewed spaceflights are launched from Baikonur.
|Kazakhstan (leased to Russia)
|90 m / 295 ft
Situated in the Kazakh Steppe, some 90 metres (300 ft) above sea level, it is 200 kilometres (120 mi) to the east of the Aral Sea and north of the Syr Darya. It is close to Töretam, a station on the Trans-Aral Railway. Russia, as the official successor state to the Soviet Union, has retained control over the facility since 1991; it originally assumed this role through the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but ratified an agreement with Kazakhstan in 2005 that allowed it to lease the spaceport until 2050. It is jointly managed by Roscosmos and the Russian Aerospace Forces.
In 1955, the Soviet Ministry of Defence issued a decree and founded the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It was originally built as the chief base of operations for the Soviet space program. The Cosmodrome served as the launching point for Sputnik 1 and Vostok 1. The launchpad used for both missions was renamed "Gagarin's Start" in honour of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who piloted Vostok 1 and became the first human in outer space. Under the current Russian management, Baikonur remains a busy spaceport, with numerous commercial, military, and scientific missions being launched annually.
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