The first time I saw the Soyuz rocket, I could not believe that this “construction” could take people into space. Even ten years later, after covering many launches, it still surprises me the level of determination with which people wanted to go into space that led to the building of a huge complex called the Baikonur cosmodrome.
Every visit I am overcome with mixed feelings. On one hand, even 50 years after the first manned space flight, space remains a sphere of high technology and garners special attention. But the storm of the Soviet Unionβs collapse left its indelible mark on the map of the spaceport. Abandoned and rusting construction, giant structures and mechanisms are silent witnesses of the space complex’s era of glory. Nostalgia resonates in every story about the history of Baikonur. Space exploration has never been a simple technological development. Everyone who served personally conquered space and the service is overgrown with tradition cherished to this day. There is no policy or ideology in it. It is rather a particular style of the Soviet, now Russian, cosmonautics. Simple and quick solutions were chosen in the race for supremacy in space. Sometimes it seems to me that there is no nanotechnology that can force these cherished orthodox methods to be abandoned.
Only here is the giant rocket assembly hangar with precious technology cleaned with the help of a simple handmade swab; exciting a creative impulse in approaching photographers.
A story at a museum about a lead pencil that Soviet cosmonauts used in space, against the complicated orbital pens invented for zero gravity in the United States, elicits special pride. At Baikonur, industrial technology is closely intertwined with romance, nostalgia and even superstition.
On October 24, 1960, an accident with missile R-16 claimed many specialist’s lives. On October 24, 1963 another accident occurred this time with rocket P-9. Now October 24 is a day off at Baikonur.