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Just read this wiki article on Tyura-tam, the actual location of the Cosmodrome. It says:

In the mid 1950s, the Soviet Union announced that space activities were being conducted from the Baykonur Cosmodrome, which was assumed to be near the city of Baykonur, in the Kazakh SSR. In reality, the launch facilities were located 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the southwest at Tyuratam to obfuscate the west as to its true location.[2]

I checked the cite and it says the same thing about mid-50's announcment as "Baykonur".

Now, I've read many times that after Yuri Gagarin flew on Vostok 1 (1961), Soviet officials filled out a FAI report to claim an official record, and listed his launch site as Baikonur. So I assumed that's when the launch site was officially named.

But the wiki article and source say it was actually announced in the mid-50's. Can anyone confirm this? I've been hunting/googling for a TASS archive for a while now, but cannot find one.

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  • $\begingroup$ Challenges To Apollo says 1961; "A, few days following Gagarin's mission, a team led by Maj. General Kerimov, the head of the Third Directorate in the Chief Directorate of Reactive Armaments of the Missile Forces, prepared a document to submit to the International Astronautical Federation on the details of the mission. Prohibited from mentioning Tyura-Tam, Kerimov and his assistants picked the small settlement of Baykonur, 370 kilometers northeast of the actual launch site". (page 284) $\endgroup$
    – DylanSp
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Its source: "Mozzhorin, etat, eds. Nachalokosmieheskoyery, pp 320-21. The others involved with Kerimovin making the decision were Colonel A A. Maksimov (GURVO) and Major V D Yastrebov (NIF4). See also Jacques Villain, ed. Baikonuor ta porte des eroiles (Paris:Armand Colin, 1994). p. 47" $\endgroup$
    – DylanSp
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Full title of that first source: Nachalo kosmicheskoy cry: vospominaniya ueteranov raketno-kosmicheskoy tekhniki i kosmonavtiki: vypusk vtoroy (The Beginning of the Space Era: smicheskoy tekhniki i kosmonavtiki: vypusk vtoroy (The Beginning of the Space Era: Memoirs of Veterans of Rocket-Space Technology and Cosmonautics: Volume Two) Moscow: RNITsKD, 1994 $\endgroup$
    – DylanSp
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @DylanSp Yes I know "Baikonur" was officially named right after Gagarin's flight. What I'm asking is if it was also named before then, in the mid-50's like the citation claims. $\endgroup$
    – DrZ214
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 22:20

1 Answer 1

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The references to the name of Baikonur were used to deliberately delude.

There was a plywood mock launch pad built in the real town of Baikonur which is hundreds of km away from the actual launch pad. So that's what they were referring to.

The village and then the city at actual launch pad had different names at different times, most notable of which is Leninsk.

And only after Yuri Gagarin's flight the actual launch pad was named Baikonur Cosmodrome. At that moment there appeared two different Baikonurs on the map, some 350km away from each other. The original town and the cosmodrome.

The city of Leninsk hosting the cosmodrome personnel was renamed to Baikonur only in 1995.

The wooden mock cosmodrome in the real Baikonur town is said to have existed up until seventies.

I can't confirm there were any publilc press releases with the name Baikonur before Gagarin's flight though. May be it was only used in internal documentation.

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  • $\begingroup$ All this naming games remind me the place in Surely you're joking mr Feynman where they were asked not to buy tickets to Albuquerque from the same station. $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any sources for the plywood mock launch pad in the real Baikonur? I would like to read more about it. $\endgroup$
    – DrZ214
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ @DrZ214:First of all, the three wikipedia articles (in Russian): (the original town) ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Байконур_(Карагандинская_область) (the cosmodrome) ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Байконур (the personnnel city) ru.wikipedia.org/wiki//Байконур_(город) $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @DrZ214: I have added a link to one of the sources for the wooden mock cosmodrome. The google translation is intelligible, kind of. $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 12:02

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