The Baikonur Cosmodrome (founded on 2 June 1955 and also known as Tyuratam) is the oldest space launch facility in the world. In the 1950s, the Soviet Union announced that space launch operations were being conducted from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Some concluded that this facility must be near the city of Baikonur, Kazakhstan. In truth, the launch facilities are located 400 km to the southwest near the railhead at Tyuratam.

The Soviets built the city of Leninsk near the facility to provide apartments, schools, and administrative support to the tens of thousands of worker at the launch facility. The first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth was launched from here. This site has been the source of all manned Soviet and CIS launches and of most lunar, planetary, and geostationary orbit launches.

Due to range safety restrictions at other launch sites, Tyuratam is the only site that can launch satellites directly into retrograde orbits. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has claimed ownership of the facility. Most of the skilled workers and the military forces protecting some of the facilities are, however, Russian.

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