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Russia could soon put the world's most historic launch pad out of service



  A Soyuz rocket launches in 2012 from Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Enlarge / A Soyuz rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2012.

NASA

Location no. In the dusty Baikonur, Kazakhstan, everything started. In October 1957, an R-7 rocket launched the first satellite Sputnik into space. Less than four years later, Yuri Gagarin reached orbit from this launch pad, and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, followed two years later.

Even today, all Russian, American, Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts launch into space site no. 1 – also known as Gagarin's Sart – because it was reconfigured to launch the Soyuz-FG rocket. But that will change soon.

Russia has already relocated its Progress cargo launches to the new Soyuz-2 rocket, and now it is reportedly transferring crew occupations to the newer rocket. In its most powerful configuration, the Soyuz 2.1b has a payload capacity of 8.2 tons compared to 6.9 tons with the Soyuz FG booster.

RIA Novosti reports that the crew of the Soyuz MS-13 will be launched The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft will be the last Soyuz FG vehicle in July and September. After this time, Gagarin's launch will be taken out of service, as there are no funds available for the launch of the Soyuz Rocket 2 to improve it.

The Soyuz 2 rocket is currently launching from another location at Baikonur 31 in Baikonur, as well as two other launch facilities in Russia and Guyana's Europe Guyana Space Center in French Guiana. Future crew launches of the Soyuz rocket and spacecraft will take place from construction site 31 in Baikonur.

In truth, the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a fairly deserted place to start from. The nearest major city, Baikonur, Tashkent, is more than 800 km away. The name Baikonur ironically means "rich soil". This applies to the original city Baikonur in Kazakhstan, which is located hundreds of kilometers north. However, when they tried to deceive the Americans during the Cold War, the Soviets set up a false launch site at the Baikonur while building the actual cosmodrome in the desert near the Syr Darya River, which is sunny for 300 days a year. [19659005] A 20 to 30-minute drive across deserted desert steppe is required to reach the launch pad from the crew quarters outside the cosmodrome. The path into space leads for the time being through one of the most forbidden terrain on earth.


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