ISS-63 mission


ISS crew:

Commander -
Christopher Cassidy
Flight engineers:
Anatoly Ivanishin
Ivan Wagner
Robert Behnken
Douglas Hurley



RSC Energia and Baikonur Cosmodrome - 65 years together!

June 2, 2020

Over a distance of 65 years the fate and fortunes of RSC Energia (formerly OKB-1, TsKBEM, NPO Energia) developers and manufacturers of space technology and civilian and military specialists of the Baikonur Cosmodrome have been inextricably twined together. The year of 1955 was a starting point of interaction, when according to OKB-1 initial requirements the construction of the research test site (Baikonur Cosmodrome) began in the location of desolate sands and harsh climate.

At that time OKB-1 and two organizations of the USSR Ministry of Aviation Industry worked on fundamentally new intercontinental range missiles. The flight range of R-7 ballistic missile exceeded eight thousand kilometers. There was a need for a site that would meet certain performance capabilities. A selection was made from three options: the first option in the Mari ASSR, and the second one on the western coast of the Caspian Sea (the region of the Astrakhan region and Dagestan) were rejected, and only the third option in the area from the Aral Sea to the city of Kzyl-Orda in Kazakhstan was found to be suitable. Attention was attracted by a narrowgauge rail spur preserved in the area of Tyuratam station leading to a small open cast located in the steppe 30 kilometers from the station.

A high merit of this option was that the Moscow-Tashkent railway passed through Tyuratam, the Syr-Darya River was nearby as a source of water meeting the demands of construction, manufacturing processes during missile tests and launches, and supplying water to future inhabited areas. In addition, this region was practically clear of any facilities and settlements, it was situated nearest to the equator, which establish the advantage when launching intercontinental missiles in the east direction (the natural motion of the Earth was used to boost a lifting off rocket). There were no difficulties with impact areas of rocket stages and location of radio control and telemetry reception and rocket flight trajectory control stations using radio facilities. The whole suite of these indicators decided the final location of the flight development test site in the vicinity of the Tyuratam railway station in the Kzyl-Orda region of the Kazakh SSR.

A minimum required buildings at the launch site and processing facility for launching R-7 missile with a command post and auxiliary services had to be primarily constructed in the Site. Among the constructed facilities were integration and test facility for spacecraft, filling stations for launch vehicles and spacecraft, rocket propellant components storage, oxygen, nitrogen, helium plants (and subsequently a liquid hydrogen plant), railway spurs to transport rockets, cargo, fueling tanks to the launch site and many other things which include the support installation.

All these Site facilities and installed equipment needed a power supply system, power transmission lines, general utilities, wired and radio communications. One could not do without a high-power computer center. Naturally, it was impossible to imagine a site without a modern city in the steppe for thousands of people to live, a extensive road system, a modern airdrome, and many other things vital for life and work of large teams.

Military builders and specialists of the Site accomplished a real feat - at the beginning of 1957 the main facilities were built, and in March the first R-7 rocket arrived at the Site for flight development tests. From this point on the Baikonur teams took part in the tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles R-7, R-7A, R-9A developed by OKB-1. After comprehensive testing these facilities were made operational and became the basis of the country's nuclear missile shield.

RSC Energia team with the active participation of the Baikonur Cosmodrome specialists significantly contributed to the establishment and development of the national and world cosmonautics. Grand projects were implemented, i.e. the first artificial earth satellite which ushered in the space age in the mankinds history; the first manned space flight; the first automatic interplanetary stations for the Moon, Mars and Venus exploration; Zenit spacecraft for detailed photographic coverage of the Earth's surface; the first national communications satellite Molniya1; manned lunar complexes L1, L3; Salyut orbital stations; modules of the Mir orbital complex and International Space Station; reusable space system Energy Buran with the world's largest launch vehicle Energy and reusable orbiter Buran.

And today the Baikonur Cosmodrome remains the main harbor of the Russian manned cosmonautics. Here, launches of manned and cargo transport spacecraft Soyuz MS, Progress MS, and spacecraft for various purposes are performed under the Federal Space Program, international and commercial programs.

The management and the staff of RSC Energia congratulate specialists and veterans of the Cosmodrome on the 65th anniversary of Baikonur! We wish you to continue your participation with your heart and hand in the joint implementation of the current and advanced projects, which will open new bright chapters of history of the Russian and world cosmonautics!





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