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Kazakhstan space program

Kazakhstan: Space-Launch Tourism Not Blasting Off as Promised

It's hard to imagine now

Tears welled up in Alexey Melnikov’s eyes as a spaceship carrying three astronauts lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome several hours before dawn. The Russian-born, London-based computer programmer had wanted to see the breathtaking spectacle since he was a boy. As the rocket engines lit up the sky and shook varied VIPs into silence, here he was standing on the same stretch of steppe that saw Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin make history.
Eight minutes and 45 seconds after blasting off from the Russian-leased desert spaceport in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz capsule – carrying two Russians and an American – separated from the rocket and safely entered orbit en route to the International Space Station. The crowd cheered. A few bottles of vodka slipped from hand to hand.
About 20 miles away, David and Susan Doig were straining to see the launch from their hotel balcony in the town closest to the cosmodrome, also called Baikonur. Only after arriving from Australia did they learn that Russia’s Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, would not allow them to watch the launch with the gaggle of journalists, engineers, astronauts’ relatives, and others wearing VIP passes like Melnikov and his partner, Kelly Rhodes.
Kazakhstan has long talked of turning Baikonur into a tourist destination. But visitors hoping to see rockets blast off from the historic cosmodrome are in for a crapshoot, and any serious expansion of tourism still faces significant hurdles.
Melnikov and Rhodes enlisted the help of a Moscow-based tour operator with close ties to Roscosmos, Vegitel Tour, which says it charges $5, 400 per person, including transport from Moscow on "special Roscosmos charters" and accommodations in a four-star hotel. “We’ve been really impressed with the access, ” said Rhodes. She will “never forget” watching astronauts launch from the same pad Gagarin used when he became the first man in space in 1961, or attending the private sendoff ceremonies. “Unless you’re a member of the [astronauts’] families, you can’t do better.”
The Doigs booked through Baikonur-based Tour Service, which charges $800 per person ($500 for citizens of Russia or Kazakhstan). That price does not cover transportation, but does include a room and three hearty heaps of mystery meat daily at the aging Tsentralnaya Hotel.
Missing the launch left the Doigs “gutted, ” said Susan, a schoolteacher from Melbourne. She stressed, though, that Tour Service told them permission to enter the heavily guarded cosmodrome was not guaranteed.
Baikonur the town (formerly Leninsk) has retained its curious status as a closed, Russian-administered city within Kazakhstan. And alone it has little to draw tourists. The settlement – which dates from the 1950s and is now home to roughly 70, 000 inhabitants – is cleaner...

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Why is the Russian Space Agency located in Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan used to be a part of the old Soviet Union.

What is the name of a city in kazakhstan sight of a space launch facility

The space complex constructed in Kazakhstan by the Soviet Union and now operated by Russia is "Baikonur".

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