Back to category Published: 12 august 2021 Author: Галина

Location and how to get to Baikonur

Geographical Location

The location for the future spaceport was chosen thoroughly. It had to be a desolate area, away from roads and settlements, in general away from any more or less important infrastructure. Such a place for the construction of the spaceport and related facilities was found in the bend of the Syrdarya River, between the two district centers of the Kyzylorda region: Kazalinsk town and Zhosaly village, near the Tyuratam passageway. Later, the city of Leninsk was built next to the crossing, which later received the name Baikonur.

In terms of climate, this area is ideal for rocket launches and missile tests: more than 300 sunny days a year, minimum rainfall, low humidity, and short winters. But for people, the climate is not the best. Temperatures here rise above 45°C (113°F) in the summer, with freezing temperatures of up to 40°C (-40 °F) in the winter. Sandstorms are not uncommon here in summer, while snowstorms and drifts happen in winter. In addition to that, the salty soil, on which almost nothing grows, and large moisture in it. Pipes and electric cables laid in the ground fail due to corrosion in 2-3 years.

How to get to Baikonur

The city of Baikonur and the Baikonur Cosmodrome are located on both sides of the Western Europe-Western China international highway. Travelers passing along this route can see the spaceport infrastructure adjacent to the road and the relevant signs from a distance from their cars. Some people try to visit the city or the spaceport on their own, but, unfortunately, it is impossible to do so. Entry to the city and the spaceport on your own transport without special permits and preliminary admission procedures is impossible.

Independent travel. You will not be able to get to Baikonur “on your own”, you must book a trip with a travel agency. To visit the Baikonur Cosmodrome, you will need a special permit from “Roskosmos” State Corporation on Space Activities, which is obtained in advance and through accredited companies and services. 

Airplane. The city of Baikonur and the Baikonur Cosmodrome have their own airports, but they have a closed working status and are used for internal purposes. An outsider can get to Baikonur by plane through the regional center of Kyzylorda city, where regular flights travel from Moscow, Almaty, Nur-Sultan (Astana), and Karaganda. A map of flights to|from Kyzylorda can be seen here. From there you may go by car or by travel agency bus. It is about three hours and about 250 km (155.34 mi) ride in a comfortable bus on the international highway.

Railway. If the plane does not suit you, or you prefer to travel by land, there is an option to get by train to the railway station Toretam (Tyuratam) in 15 minutes from Baikonur, and from there transfer to the city or the territory of the Cosmodrome.

Obtaining an Entry Permit

Documents for obtaining a permit must be submitted at least 25 days before the trip for citizens of Kazakhstan and Russia, and 45 days before the trip for citizens of other countries. In addition to these timeframes, there are also procedures for the registration and filing of documents. This can take a few more days, so tourists should do everything in advance.

A fee is charged for the permit. It is produced in specially accredited travel companies or other special organizations. Some travel agencies include the cost of its registration in the price of the tour, so they do not provide it as a separate service.

But even with a permit, you still can't wander freely around the facilities. All excursions and other movements of tourists around the Baikonur Cosmodrome are accompanied by representatives of Roscosmos. This is due to increased security measures at the Cosmodrome.

Useful Information

Currency. In the city of Baikonur, both Kazakhstani and Russian money is in circulation. You can easily pay in the shop in both tenge and rubles. At the Cosmodrome itself, you must have Russian rubles at the museum and other points of sale.

Internet and communication. Most public places (hotels, cafes) have Wi-fi access points. It is possible to buy a sim-card of Kazakhstani communication operators with 5Gb of the Internet.

Public transport. In Baikonur, there is a passenger bus service (4 routes) and shuttle buses. Yet it is easier for tourists to use a taxi. The average cost of a trip around the city by the economy-class taxi at the beginning of 2020 was 500-1000 tenge (2-3 USD).

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