Baikonur Cosmodrome

Sunday, 27th August 2006 by

Baikonur Cosmodrome is the world's oldest and largest operational space launch facility where you can clearly see the Energia, Soyuz and Proton launch platforms. Located in what is now Kazakhstan, the facility was named Baikonur to confuse the West of its exact location, as the town of Baikonur is some 320km away (although anyone who has flown on the bright orange budget airline would have expected this).

On the base we can also see a full-scale model of the Ptichka - the second of Russia's Space Shuttle designs. The Ptichka construction began in 1988 and followed the Buran, which we've previously spotted. The name means 'little bird' in Russian, but was only a nickname as the shuttle was cancelled just before it was completed and formally named.

The real Ptichka is kept indoors at Baikonur Cosmodrome, as was the original Buran shuttle. However the only Soviet craft to enter space was destroyed in 2002 when the roof above it collapsed, crushing the Buran and its mockup of the Energia booster rocket. I could be wrong but it was probably this big building with no roof. Can you spot a bit of Buran?

Thanks: Georgi Petrov (x3), dimuskin, Tesla_HV, & Hamish CJ (Get me pictures?)