Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 45
Site 45 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 is a launch site used by Zenit rockets. It consists of two pads, one of which is still in use. It has been the launch site for all Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n government Zenit launches, along with a commercial launch conducted for Globalstar
Globalstar is a low Earth orbit satellite constellation for satellite phone and low-speed data communications, somewhat similar to the Iridium satellite constellation and Orbcomm satellite systems.-History:...

 in 1998, and continuing commercial launches under the Land Launch
Land Launch
Land Launch, a subsidiary of Sea Launch, conducts commercial launches of Zenit rockets from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 45. It operates two-stage Zenit-2SLB and three stage Zenit-3SLB rockets....

 programme. The main pad at the site is area 45/1, which was completed in 1983 following five years of construction. A second pad, area 45/2, was completed in 1990, but was destroyed by a launch failure in the same year.

The first launch from site 45, using pad 1, occurred on 13 April 1985. This was a sub-orbital test flight of the Zenit-2
The Zenit-2 is a Ukrainian, previously Soviet, expendable carrier rocket. First flown in 1985, it has been launched 37 times, with six failures. It is a member of the Zenit family of rockets, and was designed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau. A modified version, the Zenit-2S, is used as the first two...

, and the maiden flight of the Zenit rocket. The launch failed, and was followed up with a second, successful, test flight launched at 08:21 GMT on 21 June 1985. Whilst this launch was also intended to be suborbital, some debris from the launch reached low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

. The first launch from pad 2 occurred on 22 May 1990, when a Zenit-2 successfully orbited a Tselina-2 ELINT satellite. On the next launch, also from pad 2, the first stage RD-171 engine failed five seconds after launch and the rocket fell back onto the launch pad from a height of about 70 metres (229.7 ft). The resulting explosion completely destroyed the launch pad, and was reported to have lifted a 1,000 tonne metal structure 20 metres into the air, and to have caused significant damage to lighting towers 100 metres from the pad. Zenit launches resumed from pad 1 around ten months later, pad 2 was not rebuilt.

On 29 June 2007, the first Zenit-2M was launched from pad 1, followed by the first Zenit-3SLB on 28 April 2008.

Facilities to support manned launches were built at both pads. These included large mobile access towers, which would have allowed the crew to board a spacecraft on top of the rocket. These towers were never used. The tower at area 45/1 is still intact, and the tower at area 45/2 is still standing, but was heavily damaged in the October 1990 explosion. The towers are not used in unmanned launch operations, as all systems are automated, and no access to the rocket is required.
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