Rocket Launch Sites

Map Credit: Russia Space Web

SHORES OF THE UNIVERSE: Russia's space launch and rocket test sites

  • Baikonur, (aka Tyuratam, or NIIP-5 test range) opened Space Age in 1957, when a converted ballistic missile hauled the world's first satellite into orbit from then super-secret site on Syr Darya River in Kazakhstan;
  • Dombarovskiy, an operational ICBM base which hosted orbital launches;
  • Kapustin Yar became the cradle of the Soviet rocketry in 1947, when Soviet engineers and their German colleagues launched the A-4 ballistic missiles from this dusty site on the banks of Volga River;
  • New (May 25): Kourou, the European spaceport in French Guiana, also became the first site to accomodate Russian rockets outside of the former Soviet Union;
  • Nenoksa, a navy test range for submarine-launched ballistic missiles could be used for space launches;
  • Plesetsk, NIIP-1 test range, the former super-secret ICBM site have grown into the world's busiest spaceport in the 1970s and 1980s;
  • Sary-Shagan, antimissile defense and laser weapons test site;
  • Sea Launch, a sea-based launch site;
  • Vostochny (formerly) Svobodny, entered service in 1997, promising Russia to replace Baikonur left in newly independent Kazakhstan
SOURCE: Russian Space Web
Pegasus Pages:

Sary Shagan
Lake Balkash in Kazakhstan
"Aldan" test site at Sary-Shagan
Map Coordinates: 46°12'N 73°48'E

A decision of the Council of Ministers on 17 August 1956 authorized work on antimissile defense and the creation of an experimental proving ground. By that time the location for a future proving ground had been found at Sary Shagan. By 1961 the facilities at Sary Shagan needed for full-scale testing were ready. An experimental model of the A-35 anti-missile system -- the "Aldan" -- was created at the Sary Shagan range by 1967 for testing the system. In September 1967, Yu.V. Votintsev was appointed chairman of an inter-departmental commission for examining new ABM system and equipment designs. The proposed Argun multichannel firing complex with a rotating phased-array antenna, which is still serving effectively to this day, was recommended for creation at the range as the main measuring device. Also rejected was a designs by Yu.G. Burlakov for a fundamentally new Neman radar, although a reduced prototype of it was created at the range for solving problems of discrimination of complex ballistic targets.

At the Sary-Shagan testing ground the L-1 experimental laser locator was built, with assistance of which information about movement of space objects was received. 

SOURCE: Global Security

Sary Shagan ASAT/Space Tracking Radar Facility Former Soviet Union
Mission 4037; H-7 05-28-67
NIMA Historic Imagery Declassification; Global Security
Sary Shagan Phased-array Radar

SYSTEM A-135 (ABM-4)

The current Russian ABM system is System A-135. System A-135 began development in 1968 with the intent of protecting Moscow against a limited nuclear strike. Initial construction of prototype elements began in 1974 at Sary Shagan. Both endoatmospheric and exoatmospheric interceptors were envisioned for the system, with Novator handling the former and OKB Fakel the latter. RTI's 5N20P Don-2P (HORSE LEG) prorotype phased-array radar was installed to provide guidance commands to the two missile systems under test from Sary Shagan. The Don-2NP is still present at Sary Shagan (see the image below), and is located at 46°00'11.18"N 73°38'58.07"E.  - SOURCE

Overview of area... click on image for larger view
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