Kazakhstan can’t get into space on its own, but the site is rented through 2050 by the Russian government. In 2012, it was host to 14 commercial satellite launches, and it’s also the only way to get a human-carrying spacecraft to or from the International Space Station. The site has an unbelievable amount of history: The first satellite, Sputnik, and the first human, Yuri Gagarin, were launched into space from there. Some of its facilities are beginning to show their age.
The environment at Baikonur is hard and arid, with temperatures ranging from -40°F (-40°C) in winter to 113°F (45°C) in summer. It’s a hard place, home to fantastic achievements, and—oh, who are we kidding, let’s get to the pictures.