Launch campaigns in Baikonur are always special, but we had a very rare opportunity to join KhSC and community members in the Baikonur City Jubilee celebration. The day started with a parade in the stadium and ended with a beautiful fireworks display. Astrium, ARABSAT and ILS were honored to be asked to march alongside KhSC. When we heard about the celebration, we remembered our visit to the space museum at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. At the museum we learned that the city of Baikonur and the space center (which is what “cosmodrome” means) were founded on June 2, 1955. A casual search of the Internet, however, shows that construction in the area was well under way before that date. This raises the question “So, what’s special about June 2?” Noted space expert Valeriy Menshikov, who took part in 900 launches over a 23-year career at Baikonur, provides an answer to that question in his book on the history of the cosmodrome. According to Menshikov, construction of some of the largest structures of the industrial age had begun here early in 1955, but that the official decree of the Soviet General Staff formally inaugurating construction of a scientific research and testing range at Baikonur was issued on June 2. That’s why local residents consider June 2 to be the “birthday” of the settlement and the Cosmodrome.

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