Baikonur: the myths about Baikonur

Baikonur is the first and largest cosmodrome in the world, it is located in Kazakhstan. From there, it is possible to launch any types of carrier rockets, this is one of three cosmodromes, from where it is possible to launch vehicles with a man on board.

Baikonur began to be built in 1955, having received the status of a cosmodrome in 1957. Today, Baikonur is rented by Russia until 2050, more than 50% of the country’s spacecraft are launched from it.

The main launches for the ISS are made from here, in fact, the station’s orbit was chosen taking into account the location of Baikonur.

With the fall of the USSR, the cosmodrome lost its secret status, access to it was received by many tourists, businessmen, journalists. However, until now Baikonur, its history is entwined with secrets and myths, some of which we will debunk.

Baikonur is the official name of a well-known cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

There is also an opinion that the name is unofficial and voices are heard about somewhere that in fact Baikonur is an unknown village on the spurs of Alatau. The very concept of Baikonur has become so familiar and has become common, that usually people do not think about whether it is true or not. Even in dictionaries, the authors call the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Baikonur. In February 1955, it was decided to create a testing ground for missile technology, which could both deliver nuclear weapons to the US, and be used to conquer outer space. The place was chosen not by chance – a good climate, remoteness from the trails and borders. In fact, the cosmodrome was located in the bend of the Syr Darya, between the regional centers of Kazalinsky and Dzhusaly. But to ensure secrecy it was decided to erect an imaginary cosmodrome that was located on the northern ranges of Alatau, in Kazakhstan, near the village of Boikonur, or, in Russian, Baikonur. There, they hardly delivered timber, built a mock-up of start-up devices, but there were no roads or power lines there, it is not surprising that such an object did not attract the attention of American intelligence services. But in the Soviet media constantly reported on the successful launches of missiles from Baikonur, which led to a persistent perception of this name, as a cosmodrome. In fact, near the real cosmodrome, which during the construction was code-named “Taiga”, the city of Leninsk spreads out, with a population of about 70 thousand people.

In Baikonur, only proven people came to the service, with merits before the country.

It was also thought that it was possible to get into the secret place only by means of brunt, the other extreme was the opinion that random people from the number of conscript soldiers served there. In fact, of course, an accidental person could not get to serve on Baikonur. Back in the military registration and enlistment office, the “unreliable” were being screened out, but young specialists, and even builders by profession, could have reached the launch site. So it did not take special merit before the country for service at Baikonur, but the candidates did pass the primary screening process. Hardly a son of deported Volga Germans or Tatars could get to serve on a secret facility.

There are only pads and rockets on Baikonur.

And in the emergence of this myth, the media are guilty. In the stories about missile launches, launching grounds, faces of guests, astronauts flashed, it is not surprising that some sands and camels are around. In fact, in Leninsk, officers lived together with their families, which means that a number of institutions were functioning that were necessary for the normal existence of people. There is a hairdresser and a polyclinic. Of course, it was hard for the officers’ wives to find work in such a closed city, but the authorities were overlooked at this. In the city there were shops and a department store, which eventually became just a club for women. At the same time the assortment of goods was rich, on Baikonur did not know the deficit. The main attraction of the city was a chic building with a hotel “Kosmos” and a restaurant. It was there that all guests and visiting cosmonauts stayed.The hotel even had special cutlery, with a picture of a rocket, which often even famous guests were dragged along for souvenirs. Despite the fact that several thousand people lived in the city, and that it was only a kilometer away from the railway, few knew about its existence, the train schedule was drawn up so that the trains passed by late at night. And at that time, the residents had to extinguish the lights in the houses. Over time, the city grew larger, barracks were replaced by new five-story buildings. Today almost 70 thousand people live in the city, naturally the city has all the necessary infrastructure.

Conditions of life were difficult, in many ways this was done so that people would not relax.

The opposite of this myth was the opinion that people on Baikonur received a high salary, a good ration, and the work regime was sparing. Also there were rumors that prisoners were working at such facilities, which they did not need to pay at all. The very builders of Baikonur recall that the salary, albeit with allowances, was not bad – about 200 rubles, but not unique. Workers were given free clothes, but the schedule, in view of the heat, was as follows: from 4 to 10 in the morning and from 16 to 20 in the evening. The workers had 2 days off, but in preparation for the launch, during the emergency work, the schedule was visibly distorted, sleep was given for 3-4 hours a day. At first people lived in barracks, after which standard houses were built. The provision was good, the store had any products, and household appliances. Thus, practically nothing special in the conditions of life was not, preferential opportunities were additions to difficult conditions.

Baikonur was isolated from the outside world.

Many believe that the inhabitants of the cosmodrome did not know anything about what is happening in the country and the world, they were forbidden to call, read the newspapers. This approach was typical for the Soviet era, it was believed that complete isolation of people would help preserve state secrets. In fact, people. Those who served in Baikonur did not lose contact with their relatives, they knew where they were serving. Wrote and letters home about the place of service, about labor and army everyday life, about weather and camels, even it was possible to joke about the rockets and astronauts. Naturally, all this was within the limits of what was allowed, as a receipt was given for non-disclosure. Relatives were not allowed to visit, but officers’ wives lived in the city together with their husbands. So there was no special closeness, the city did not lose contact with the outside world.

Ordinary employees penetrated the secrets of the Motherland.

It is believed that it is simply impossible to be in the immediate vicinity of secrets and not to recognize them. At the cosmodrome, there was an access system based on the image of animals. Each sector was matched by its beast. On the pass put a stamp, for example, foxes, which made it possible to get the opportunity to work at the desired object, premises. Over time, the entire pass was imprinted by a whole zoo. Many people were not interested in what was happening behind closed doors, as Soviet upbringing gave respect to state secrets. People simply did their work without going beyond what is permissible.

Employees of Baikonur freely communicated with the astronauts.

It seems quite natural that the immediate proximity to rockets and astronauts entails a personal acquaintance with the conquerors of the cosmos. Actually, the astronauts did not stand out from the crowd, they walked in the same military uniform as the other officers. By the way, the form was adapted for a hot climate – a wide-brimmed officer’s panama, a tunic with sleeves without cuffs and trousers “rundown,” so the inhabitant of Baikonur was different from other military men. The inhabitants of the cosmodrome themselves learned about who exactly went into space already from the news release. A fairly narrow circle of people spoke with cosmonauts, so ordinary officers and officers usually did not intersect.

For the inhabitants of Baikonur the most memorable events were rocket launches.

When interviewed by those who served at the cosmodrome, it turned out that the most touching and memorable moments were not rocket launches, but simple life joys – a letter from a loved one, or unexpected snow in the desert. Therefore, we should not assume that the heroic service should be exclusively heroic and events, memories.

Baikonurovtsy practically did not leave the place of service at the end of the contract, remaining to make a career there.

What kind of person does not want to go home? So with Baikonur – most still considered the days before sending home, and the authorities did not repair this obstacle.

Space tourism appeared only in our time.

Currently, the cosmodrome began to appear tourists who want to see the launch of the rocket with their own eyes, and those who got there for money appeared among the cosmonauts. Today, Baikonur has more than 10 hotels, including international class. However, space tourism existed before, and it was for high officials. According to recollections of eyewitnesses for high guests, rocket launches were organized, for officials it was something like fireworks. However, rockets with people were practically not used, for such purposes military installations were used. And the workers were hid in such days, so that they would not come to the fore. They launched missiles for Brezhnev, French President Pompidou watched the launch of three missiles, and the president of Czechoslovakia – two. What is not space tourism?

There are no more secrets on Baikonur that the public does not know about.

To create this opinion, public opinion again tried. We hear that Baikonur is visited by many tourists, that no one needs the spaceport today – neither Rossi, nor Kazakhstan, that the state is looking for specialists to work there. All this allows us to assume that there are no secrets and secrets on this object at all. In fact, the installation and testing building has never been shown on TV, and cameramen are not allowed to enter the inner filling of the cosmodrome. All the same, in the field of space technology there is a fierce competition, so all secrets will not be revealed. It is hardly likely that the secret will be revealed once about the death of dozens and hundreds of soldiers of conscripts who, through their own carelessness, breathed in a poisonous paint-this is not necessary to anyone. So the cosmodrome will keep its secrets for a long time.

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