Spaceport refers to the territory on which there are facilities designed to launch vehicles into space. These objects occupy a considerable area and they are trying to be located at the maximum distance from the dwellings.
But the most important requirement for cosmodromes is the proximity to the equator. Because of this arrangement, the carrier can use the energy of the Earth’s rotation, which helps to save fuel.
Only at the equator there are not so many developed states that caused the emergence of mobile and sea-based cosmodromes. There are about thirty cosmodromes in the world, but few of them are actively used. About the largest cosmodromes of mankind, acting today, and will be discussed.
This cosmodrome is the largest and most actively used in the world. Despite the fact that the main history of Russian cosmonautics is connected with it, it is located in Kazakhstan. The spaceport was officially founded on June 2, 1955. Then the commission was looking for a sparsely populated region, whose land is not used in agriculture. The Soviet authorities decided to create a testing ground for missiles that would be able to deliver nuclear charges for long distances. The first missile, R-7, was launched from Baikonur on May 15, 1957. It was she who, from this cosmodrome, was able on October 4, 1957, to bring into orbit the first artificial satellite, marking the beginning of the space age. One of the biggest accidents in the history of space launches is connected with Baikonur – when a R-16 missile was tested, a fire took place that killed 76 people. And on April 12, 1961 the first man, Yuri Gagarin, left for Baikonur. Since that time, more than 1,500 launches of spacecraft have been carried out from the cosmodrome, and ballistic missiles have also been tested. In 1994, the object, together with the adjacent city, was leased to Russia. Kazakhstan will receive 115 million dollars annually until 2050. Launches of rockets at Baikonur were carried out from 16 different launchers.
Cape Canaveral, USA.
This cape was named after Kennedy in 1964-1973. It is located on the Atlantic coast of Florida. At the headland is the US Air Force facility, which is essentially operated by NASA. It is interesting that on the next island there is the Kennedy Space Center, from which launches of devices are also being carried out. As a result, “Cape Canaveral” combines at once two starting complexes. This object received a unique telephone code 321, in honor of its contribution to the exploration of outer space. After all, these numbers signify a countdown. Since 1949, the military base has been used to test missiles, allowing them to be launched across the Atlantic. Hence, from 1956 onwards, the Americans began to implement early suborbital missile launches. And the launch of an artificial satellite following the USSR in December 1957 failed. In 1958 it was founded by NASA, for which the launches from Cape Canaveral were carried out. There are also many sites for rockets. September 13, 1961 from this cosmodrome, the Americans were able to make the first orbital flight, and in February 1962 the first US citizen also ascended into space. In 2012, 10 launches of space vehicles were made from Cape Canaveral.
Kourou, French Guiana.
This cosmodrome is located in the northeast of South America, on the Atlantic coast. In 1964, the French government decided to join the space program and out of 14 competitors it was the Kuru that chose. Construction began in 1965, and the first launch of the missile from here was carried out on April 9, 1968. In 1975, with the formation of the European Space Agency, it was decided to make the Kura the main place for launching space programs. Europe modernized the cosmodrome for its program “Ariane”. And in 2003 the agreement with the French was signed by Russia, which allowed the launching of Russian missiles from the Kur River. In October 2011, the first “Union” ascended to the sky from the French cosmodrome.Advantages of the Kuru is that from here only 500 kilometers to the equator, which saves fuel. The location of the cosmodrome is such that it allows you to carry out all possible missions. High level of efficiency, reliability and security attracts customers from other countries to Kura. And from here in 2012, 10 rocket launches were carried out.
In the 1970s China joined the space race. According to Mao Zedong’s plans, in 1973 an astronaut from this country was to be in orbit. Especially for the implementation of this project in Sichuan, near the city of Xichang, the construction of the cosmodrome began. They built it in the strictest secrecy mode, and the place was chosen not only because of its proximity to the equator, but also as far as possible from the border with the Soviet Union. But during the Cultural Revolution, leading scientists were repressed, and funding was curtailed. The project was closed and restarted only in 1984. Then the first launches took place here, and in 1988, foreign specialists were admitted to Xichang. Since 1990, the cosmodrome offers its services to other countries, commercial launches are carried out with the help of the national carrier rocket CZ-3. The cosmodrome has two launching complexes at a distance of one kilometer from each other. The spaceport can theoretically produce about 10-12 launches every year. It is interesting that at the start-ups the population of the nearest settlements is evacuated. A booster in the case of non-standard situations is undermined so that its debris fell in sparsely populated areas.
, Taiyuan, China.
The space center began launching missiles since 1966, but then it was a question of military ballistic media. Only in 1988 the first launch of the spacecraft took place here. The cosmodrome was previously called Uzhai and is located much north of Xichang, near the city of Taiyuan. It was built 2,500 years ago and was the birthplace of many emperors of China. So the past connected with the future, which is surely told to tourists. The area of the cosmodrome is 375 square kilometers, and its pads are at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level. On site, in addition to the rocket launchers themselves, there is also a maintenance tower and two liquid fuel storage facilities. The main launches of satellites from here – meteorological, reconnaissance and remote sensing. In 2012 five launches of space vehicles were carried out from here.
This is the first cosmodrome for China and until 1984 it was the only one. Jiuquan is also called the Chinese Baikonur, including because of the size – 2800 square kilometers. Initially, in the Gobi Desert, the Shuangchenzi proving ground was built. And the first launch into space from here was carried out in 1970 – the Chinese satellite Dongfanghun-1 ascended to the sky. And in October 2003 the first Chinese cosmonaut (taikonaut) started from this cosmodrome. Thus, China became the third country in history with manned space flight. And in 2005, the second manned flight took place – two taikonauts made 30 turns around the Earth. In total, from 1970 to 1996, 26 launches were carried out from here. In the 1990s, China began to offer other countries the possibility of commercial use of spaceports, but Jiuquan was not in great demand due to its geographical location. Then it was decided to make this center the main base for the implementation of the national project of manned spacecraft. Especially for this purpose, a modern management kit was created, which is simply not equal in the world.
The most important spaceport in Russia is located 180 kilometers south of Arkhangelsk. This is the northernmost object of its kind with a long history. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Plesetsk was the leader in the number of launches of space rockets, from 1957 to 1993 they were carried out in 1372, which is one and a half times more than Baikonur.The history of the cosmodrome began on January 11, 1957, when the Council of Ministers decided to create a military facility “Angara”. It was here that the first military combination with ballistic missiles was to be stationed in the USSR. The location was chosen in view of the reach of the territory of the alleged enemy and that it was possible to do test launches in the area of Kamchatka. But in the summer of 1963 it was decided to convert the military facility into a test facility. The polygon began to develop in two directions: rocket and space. The first launch of the spacecraft took place here in 1966. Since 1968, Plesetsk has started to implement international space programs. Already in 1972 from here the French device MAS-1 was sent to space. With the creation of the Russian military space forces in 1992, it was Plesetsk that became the first state spaceport. At present, there are launching platforms for all modern domestic carriers of light and middle class at the cosmodrome, and a starter complex is being created for the newest carrier rockets, including heavy ones.
It is quite obvious that if there is no possibility to launch missiles from the territory of equatorial states, then the sea floating spaceport should be adapted for these purposes. This is the Sea Launch. This method was used in 1964-1988 on the sea fixed platform “San Marco” in the Kenyan equatorial waters. However, the payload when starting up from there was only 200 kilograms. After it became known that a powerful launch vehicle did not start from there, Russia, the United States and Ukraine in 1995 created an international consortium “Sea Launch”. The project cost was 3.5 billion dollars. However, in 2009 the company declared its bankruptcy. And the first successful commercial launch took place in 1999. In total, by February 1, 2013, 35 launches were carried out, of which three were unsuccessful. The starting point is a place in the Pacific Ocean, near the Christmas Island and exactly at the equator. And although this place is considered calm and remote from sea routes, several times it was necessary to postpone launches due to bad weather.
This cosmodrome is part of the Satish Dhyan Space Center. It is located on the island of Shriharikota, which is in the Bay of Bengal. The obvious advantage of this cosmodrome is its proximity to the equator. The spaceport began operating in 1980, although the date of foundation is October 1, 1970. Today meteorological satellites are launched from here, and space technology is being developed. On average, India from here makes two launches annually. At the cosmodrome there are not only launching complexes, but also a tracking station, test benches for rocket engines. A plant for the production of fuel for carriers was also built there. From the cosmodrome of Shriharikota in 2008, the lunar mission was launched, and in 2013 – the interplanetary Martian station.
Vandenberg, United States.
The main American cosmodrome is believed to be Canaveral. However, this air force base, which is operated by NASA, is an important place in the history of space exploration. In 1957, the training center of infantry was transferred to the Air Force, becoming the center for testing space and ballistic missiles. By 1968, through the acquisition of farmland, the area of the cosmodrome was increased to a modern 400 square kilometers. In 1958, the first launch of a ballistic missile was carried out from Vandenberg, and the next year the launch of a polar-orbiting satellite. In 1972 the cosmodrome was chosen as a place for launching and landing space shuttles “Shuttle” on the western coast of the United States. The base was significantly refined, however, after the collapse of Challenger in 1986, the shuttle program was frozen. The launch complex was again reoriented for launching polar-orbiting satellites, mainly for military purposes. Also near the cosmodrome is the Center for Missile and Space Heritage, which shows how the base and its technologies developed.