After the end of World War II the country was in a difficult situation. Restructuring of the economy began. The main principle of economic policy remained disproportionately accelerated development of heavy industry. Kazakhstan relied on the priority development of heavy industry. We add all-round development of the defense power. Kazakhstan began to turn into the largest unit of the military-industrial complex - there was an infrastructure of military production, nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk and other military facilities.
It was one of the two major nuclear polygons in the USSR 1949-1989 years.
In August 1947, the decision of the USSR Council of Ministers adopted a decree on the establishment of the nuclear test site, which was conventionally called the “training ground №2”. For the construction of the landfill site was selected at 140 km west of Semipalatinsk, surrounded from the south, west and north by low mountains, distant from the major population centers. There were airports, railways, river transport on the Irtysh, and also took into account the proximity to the nuclear power industry of the Southern Urals. Landfill management headed I. Kurchatov.
From the state site project was headed by the Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR L.P. Beria. Tests at the site lasted for 40 years.
The landfill was used for a variety of tests of nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union - in the ground (in tunnels and wells), and in the atmosphere. August 12, 1953 there was tried thermonuclear weapons in the atmosphere - at a height of 30 meters above the ground (the charge was placed in a special tower).
After that began a rapid contamination of the landfill site and the surrounding land with radioactive elements. November 22, 1955 another thermonuclear bomb was dropped from a plane and exploded at an altitude of 2 km above ground level.
A total of 456 nuclear tests were made at the Semipalatinsk test site, 116 of which were ground or atmospheric. The total capacity of all these explosions was 2,500 times higher than the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Under the influence of these explosions, radioactive deposits spread over the surrounding area through the clouds and the wind. The radiation level where tests were carried out, reached 448 Baer.
Creating a cosmodrome in the 1950s was determined by the necessity of working out of the first Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile R-7. Its flight range exceeding 8,000 km, in connection with which there was a need of a new line of equipment, running east almost the whole Asian part of the Soviet Union.
It took new areas for falling exhaust stages and new measuring points. There was a need for a new landfill launches of these missiles. In order to solve this problem in the early 1950s, a commission was created, developed requirements for the new polygon and said preferred areas of the country to create it, including areas of Kalmykia and Dagestan.
As a result was selected placement of a new site in Kazakhstan near the Aral Sea in the vicinity of the railway station Tura-Tam, Kyzyl-Orda region, Kazakh SSR.
February 12, 1955 adopted a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR № 292-181 on landfill construction. Baikonur covers an area of 6717 km². The main objects of construction were launching pads of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and technical facilities of the landfill.
By November 1956 was completed the construction and installation work on the majority of objects and facilities, ensuring readiness to start flight tests of ICBMs. There were built: the launch complex, the launch control center, assembly and test building, part of the measuring points, data center building, put in conduit, water pumping station and the power station. There also were built roads and railways.
The first launch of a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile 8K71 number 5L - a prototype of a family of missiles R-7 "Union" was held May 15, 1957. The first successful launch of 8K71 number 6 took place August 21, 1957, and October 4 of that year, a rocket booster 8K71 PS launched from Baikonur with the first artificial earth satellite "PS-1" and the spaceship with the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched April 12, 1961.
The first launcher "Soyuz" was put into operation in 1957. Second, similar to it - in 1961. Two rocket launchers “Cyclone-M” were put into operation in 1967. The first launcher "Proton" was put into operation in 1965, the second - in 1966 and two more - in 1979.
Simultaneously with the creation of the complex "Energia-Buran" at Baikonur was built residential complex for launch vehicles of the middle class of the new generation "Zenith" that could bring to the near-earth orbit payload of 15 tons. A special feature of the complex "Zenith" is the maximum automation of processes of preparation rocket booster to launch. The launch complex "Zenith" was created by Transport Engineering Design Bureau under the leadership of engineer V. Solovyev.
A significant contribution to the cosmodrome "Baikonur" in space exploration were launches of carrier rockets "Proton" with interplanetary stations to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and long-term orbital stations "Salyut" and "Mir". Cosmodrome "Baikonur" was used for the following space programs and projects: "Vostok", "Voskhod", "Salyut", "Mir", "Mars", "Venus", "Moon" and "Energy-Buran".
Program "Energy-Buran" was preceded by an ambitious lunar program N-1, approved by the USSR in 1964. In the period from 1969 to 1972 there were four launch rockets N-1, which ended unsuccessfully. In 1976, the works on N-1 were completely discontinued.
Created under this program a unique residential complex was preserved, but at the end of the 70s, began works on its reconstruction and the creation of new surface facilities at the complex "Energia-Buran". As a result the launch complex and versatile integrated stand-start were created. At Baikonur a special boarding complex was created to provide landing of the orbiter.
According to the program "Energy-Buran" at the Baikonur was created rocket launch facilities "Energia". This allowed May 15, 1987 conduct from the Baikonur a successful test launch of a new heavy-duty rocket "Energy", and November 15, 1988, this rocket was used for placing into Earth orbit 30-ton orbiter shuttle "Buran" in unmanned version. This remarkable experiment was performed largely due to already existing at the Baikonur ground test base for the implementation of this program.
Since the beginning of the 90s the works on the program "Energy-Buran" at Baikonur were discontinued, the objects were conserved, and some of them were then used by other programs.
At the initiative of VNIIEF (All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics) specialists a unique technology group of nuclear tests and a unique testing ground Azgir on a salt massif to practice the peaceful use of nuclear explosion technology was created. It is located in the Atyrau region of Kazakhstan.
Here, in all three salt domes were conducted secret tests. They were accompanied by a large research program on the use of powerful explosions for peaceful purposes, in particular, to explore the possibility of creating the storage chambers for fuel and nuclear waste.
Nuclear tests here were carried out in 1966-1979. It was underground nuclear explosions for the development of the technology of creating cavities in salt formations. Total were produced 17 underground explosions in ten technology areas with depths ranging from 165 to 1,500 m. The first explosion was produced in 1966 at a distance of 1.5 km from the village Azgir.
In 1989-1994, by experts from Arzamas-16, all the sites were subjected to decontamination and remediation. Polygon "Azgir" was closed in 1996. At the site of the former wells the radioactivity was observed at the present time. It was established that part of these cavities flooded underground water, and nuclear contamination spread on aquifers, extending the dangerous territory for all living area.
According to scientists, in many respects the health of Azgir residents is worse than respective indices in the population of the Chernobyl.
By Makhabbat BOLSHINA
Translated by Raushan MAKHMETZHANOVA
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