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Plesetsk Cosmodrome
62.8 N 40.7 E

For many years the spaceport and the city were kept secret. The Rocketeer was forbidden to talk about the place of life, even relatives. In letters to the postal envelopes indicated in the address bar "Moscow-400" or "Leningrad-200". Only in 1983 there was the first official publication of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the national press of the USSR.

Strictly speaking, the history of the cosmodrome begins January 11, 1957, when it was adopted a decree of the USSR government to establish a military facility with the code name "Angara". It was created as troop compound missile regiments armed intercontinental ballistic missiles R-7, the development of which was conducted in DB-1 under the guidance of Sergei Korolev.

The properties of these missiles have largely determined the choice of location for the project "Angara". To consider and reach the territory of the potential enemies of the USSR, the vast and sparsely populated northern territories, and possible trajectories of test launches in the region of Kamchatka. Based on these considerations, and a platform for future spaceport was selected.

The first chief of the Plesetsk was appointed Major-General Mihail Grigorevich Grigorev. With his signature on the document, the first new connection July 15, 1957 conducts the official history of the cosmodrome. Over the years, it was headed by Anatoly Perminov Plesetsk (statesman, deputy general director of JSC "Russian Space Systems"), the former head of Roscosmos Oleg Ostapenko and Space Troops Commander Alexander Golovko. From 2013 Major-General Nikolai Nestechuk directed the spaceport.

March 17, 1966 at 13 o'clock 28 minutes on the Plesetsk cosmodrome the launch of the first spacecraft "Kosmos-112" (unit overviews in "Zenit-2"). Carrier rocket "Vostok-2" placed it into low Earth orbit. In subsequent years, there have been tested more than 60 types of spacecraft.

For services in the development, testing and manufacture of special equipment February 22, 1968 the launch site was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, and January 18, 1977 Baikonur awarded the Order of the Red Banner for the achievements in the creation of new models of weapons and military equipment. The official status of Baikonur acquired in accordance with the Presidential Decree of 11 November 1994.

By 2017, with the Plesetsk launch pads into orbit displayed more than 2,000 spacecraft for various purposes. Specialists conducted about 1,600 launch vehicles, space 11 tested missiles, 60 types of spacecraft. On the territory of the cosmodrome produced about 500 launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Russia's Defense Ministry has no plans to create in the East a second state test spaceport (GIC) on the model of Plesetsk, a source in the Defense Ministry told Tass 13 May 2016. "We have no plans to create a second GIC on the East, so there is nothing on our line will not" - the source said .

According to him, the Defense Ministry considered it inappropriate to spray resources and plan to spend it entirely on Plesetsk. "All our attention is now paid to the further development of infrastructure in Plesetsk It is in our interest reconstructed old and built new facilities for testing new rocket and space technology, and for its launch." - Said the source.

The second of the Soviet launch sites is near the town of Plesetsk on the railway from Moscow to Archangel at about 62.83 N. latitude, 40.1° E. longitude in European Russia. This site has never been specifically acknowledged through 1975. It is finding increasingly heavy use, primarily as an operational site, in contrast to the often experimental or specialized nature of the Tyuratam flights.

Plesetsk is in effect the Vandenberg Air Force Base ( Western Test Range ) of the Soviet Union . From here are launched many of the navigation satellites, the weather satellites, and the majority of the military satellites for a wide range of purposes. Now also, most of the Molniya class inclined orbit communications satellites which previously were launched from Tyuratain are also launched from Plesetsk. With its northern location, Plesetsk is used for missions which require coverage of extensive parts of Earth, since even flights launched due east for maximum payload capacity cover most of the inhabited Earth.

Plesetsk had been discussed in the Western press as a missile launching area. It’s later space role presumably was known to Western governments, but the first public disclosure of this space cosmodrome came from the Kettering Grammar School in England . Geoffrey E. Perry published the first clue in April 1966 shortly after the first space launch in March. (7) He published the pinpointed location in November 1966 when Flights at different inclinations had established a nodal point of crossing ground traces. (8) As additional kinds of missions were launched from the Plesetsk area, their patterns of orbital inclinations suggested launch pads scattered over a considerable geographic area. Landsat pictures confirmed to the public that Plesetsk was spread over tens of kilometers although not quite as large as the Baykonur Cosmodrome near Tyuratam.(9)

When weather conditions are just right, an occasional Plesetsk launch has been visible from Sweden and Finland , when the still firing rocket rises above the horizon. The closest the Soviet Government has come to acknowledging Plesetsk is to permit its use for cooperative Soviet Bloc payload launches, one of the first being Interkosmos 8 of 1972. (1)

Three separate launch pads for Soyuz-2 rockets will be built at the Plesetsk space center in northwestern Russia after its renovation is over by 2019, a defense ministry spokesman said 21 May 2015. MOSCOW (Sputnik) Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said: "When the renovation is over, the space center will have three launch pads for launching medium and light-class Soyuz-2 rockets, modifications 1a, 1b, 1v." He added that renovation works at the Plesetsk space center include building 72 new sites and renovating 26 existing ones. The first launch of a medium-class Soyuz-2 rocket from a new launch pad was expected to take place in the first half of 2017.

Launch complex number 3 was damaged as a result of the disaster that occurred in 2002 when the Soyuz-U launch vehicle was launched. Since that time, it was first under repair, then on modernization so that it could launch Soyuz-2 missiles from it. In October 2019, Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Timur Ivanov announced the completion of these works. Until now, Soyuz-2 launches were carried out from the SK-4 launch complex of the 43rd platform, from where the carriers of the modernization stages Soyuz-2.1a, Soyuz-2.1b and Soyuz-2.1v were launched. In total, 39 launches of launch vehicles of this family were completed from Plesetsk.


  • 7. Perry, G. E., Plight International, London , April 21.1966, p. 670.
  • 8. Perry G. E., Flight International. London , Nov. 10, 1966 , p. 817.
  • 9. Aviation Week, New York . April 8, 1974 , pp. 18-20.

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